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The Responsibility and Mission of the Church

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Some, misunderstanding God’s overall plan, also misunderstand what the Church is to do. What is the Church’s overall mission?

“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15 Mark 16:15And he said to them, Go you into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
American King James Version×
, NASB). “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations … teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20 Matthew 28:19-20 19 Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you: and, see, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. Amen.
American King James Version×
).

Jesus Christ gave His Church—this body of spiritually transformed believers—a responsibility to carry out. The Church’s mission is to preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God and make disciples throughout the world, teaching them exactly what Jesus taught (Mark 16:15 Mark 16:15And he said to them, Go you into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
American King James Version×
; Matthew 24:14 Matthew 24:14And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations; and then shall the end come.
American King James Version×
; Matthew 28:19-20 Matthew 28:19-20 19 Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you: and, see, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. Amen.
American King James Version×
).

The work of the Church continues; it did not cease when the original disciples died. At first the job of the apostles, the Church’s mission has passed to each generation of God’s people. Jesus promised to be with His followers as they accomplished that work until He returns at the end of the age (verse 20).

Notice the purpose for which Jesus Christ sent the apostle Paul to people in the world: “to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me” (Acts 26:18 Acts 26:18To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
American King James Version×
).

Paul also said: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16 Romans 1:16For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God to salvation to every one that believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
American King James Version×
). The gospel is God’s message of how salvation will be brought to mankind—starting with His Church.

The Church plays many roles in bringing salvation to the world. It stands as the light of the world (Matthew 5:14 Matthew 5:14You are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
American King James Version×
). It is the household or family of God (Ephesians 2:19 Ephesians 2:19Now therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
American King James Version×
; 1 Peter 4:17 1 Peter 4:17For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?
American King James Version×
, NIV). It is the mother who nurtures God’s sons and daughters (Galatians 4:26 Galatians 4:26But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.
American King James Version×
). It functions as the “pillar and ground of the truth” in a spiritually confused world (1 Timothy 3:15 1 Timothy 3:15But if I tarry long, that you may know how you ought to behave yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
American King James Version×
).

Let’s look at the multifaceted responsibilities Christ gave His Church, His special people.

Must the Church save the world?

Paul describes the Church’s responsibility as “the ministry of reconciliation” because “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18-19 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 18 And all things are of God, who has reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, not imputing their trespasses to them; and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
American King James Version×
).

God’s ultimate purpose is to gather—to reconcile—all mankind to Himself. The Church plays an important role in that worthy effort. God has commissioned it to preach how that reconciliation will occur. It is to baptize those who believe that message.

When will that reconciliation take place? A common misperception is that Jesus has commissioned His Church to save the world in this age. But that is not what the Bible teaches and is not what Paul meant in 2 Corinthians 5.

The Church’s ministry of reconciliation is only the beginning of a much greater phase of God’s plan for reconciling the world to Himself through Jesus Christ.

God has commissioned the Church to proclaim salvation to the nations. But proclaiming Jesus’ teaching about salvation is vastly different from bringing mankind to salvation. The latter will necessitate bringing the entire world to repentance and conversion. Only Jesus Christ can convert the world; that task will have to wait until He returns.

Why Christ must bring Israel to repentance

At His return Christ will begin God’s reconciliation to the world by bringing the descendants of Jacob—Israel—to repentance.

At that time, Paul explains, “all Israel will be saved.” How? “The Deliverer [Christ] will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob” (Romans 11:26 Romans 11:26And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:
American King James Version×
).

Then, as soon as the restored people of Israel learn obedience as a nation, many peoples will come and say, according to the book of Isaiah, “ ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.’ The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:3 Isaiah 2:3And many people shall go and say, Come you, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
American King James Version×
, NIV).

Zechariah tells us, “In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you’ ” (Zechariah 8:23 Zechariah 8:23Thus said the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.
American King James Version×
).

Humanity will begin to realize that the law God gave to ancient Israel must still be observed. Mankind will shed its prejudices and even begin keeping the biblical festivals, which God gave to ancient Israel (listed in full in Leviticus 23).

Those who remain unrepentant will soon find themselves in dire circumstances because God will humble them by withholding rain from their crops until they change their attitude: “Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles [one of the biblical festivals]. If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, they will have no rain”(Zechariah 14:16-17 Zechariah 14:16-17 16 And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. 17 And it shall be, that whoever will not come up of all the families of the earth to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, even on them shall be no rain.
American King James Version×
, NIV).

Since Christ knows human nature, He will do what is needed at that time to change the thinking of people—to bring them to repentance. But that is to occur in the future after He returns.

Even though the Church is to proclaim a message to the world that includes a call for repentance, Scripture tells us that relatively few people will truly repent before Christ returns. Thus, bringing the world to repentance is not the Church’s role for this age.

A small group: the light of the world

To the contrary, Jesus said to His disciples, “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 John 16:33These things I have spoken to you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
American King James Version×
). He also said: “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:18-19 John 15:18-19 18 If the world hate you, you know that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love his own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
American King James Version×
).

God’s people have never been a popular or powerful force. Jesus describes their lot in life: “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14 Matthew 7:13-14 13 Enter you in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads to life, and few there be that find it.
American King James Version×
, NRSV).

Yes, only a few are willing to follow all the teachings of Jesus Christ once they hear and understand them. Jesus comforted His disciples, “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32 Luke 12:32Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
American King James Version×
). God reveals that His people would be a little flock in this age. He is calling only a few to be the living examples of His way of life to the rest of world.

Jesus says to His true disciples: “You are the light of the world…Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16 Matthew 5:14-16 14 You are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it gives light to all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
American King James Version×
).

God commissioned the Church to set the example of His way of life to the world. God is exposing humanity to His ways through the Church. Peter exhorts the members of the Church, “Conduct yourselves honorably among the Gentiles, so that, though they malign you as evildoers, they may see your honorable deeds and glorify God when he comes to judge” (1 Peter 2:12 1 Peter 2:12Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.
American King James Version×
, NRSV).

The Church: God’s firstfruits

During “this present evil age” (Galatians 1:4 Galatians 1:4Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:
American King James Version×
), the Church of God consists of only the first small part of God’s great harvest of people to eternal life.

James calls Christians “a kind of firstfruits of His creatures” (James 1:18 James 1:18Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.
American King James Version×
). They are “redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb” (Revelation 14:4 Revelation 14:4These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These were redeemed from among men, being the first fruits to God and to the Lamb.
American King James Version×
).

The biblical usage of the term firstfruits was readily understood by members of the early Church. “In acknowledgment of the fact that all the products of the land came from God, and [in] thankfulness for His goodness, Israelites brought as an offering to Him a portion of the fruits that ripened first, these being looked upon as an earnest of the coming harvest” ( Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary, 1967, “First Fruits”).

The firstfruits were the first part of the harvest, which the Israelites set apart for God. After they gathered them and dedicated them to their Creator, they harvested the rest of the crops. The apostles and other members of the early Church understood that, as firstfruits, the Church is the first part of God’s harvest of humanity for salvation. The vastly greater portion of the harvest will not take place until after Jesus Christ’s return.

Those whom God calls in this age will participate in the saving of the world—but not at this time and not as human beings. At the return of Jesus Christ they will be fully transformed into immortal spirit beings.

God will resurrect them to eternal life as the firstfruits of His harvest, receiving immortality at Christ’s return (1 Corinthians 15:20-53 1 Corinthians 15:20-53 20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept. 21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the first fruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. 24 Then comes the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. 25 For he must reign, till he has put all enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. 27 For he has put all things under his feet. But when he said all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. 28 And when all things shall be subdued to him, then shall the Son also himself be subject to him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all. 29 Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead? 30 And why stand we in jeopardy every hour? 31 I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our LORD, I die daily. 32 If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantages it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die. 33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. 34 Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame. 35 But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? 36 You fool, that which you sow is not quickened, except it die: 37 And that which you sow, you sow not that body that shall be, but bore grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: 38 But God gives it a body as it has pleased him, and to every seed his own body. 39 All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. 40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differs from another star in glory. 42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: 43 It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. 45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. 46 However, that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. 47 The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven. 48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. 50 Now this I say, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
American King James Version×
). They will then serve as kings and priests in the Kingdom of God (Revelation 5:10 Revelation 5:10And have made us to our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
American King James Version×
).

As the immortal, resurrected children of God, they will assist Christ in teaching God’s way of obedience to the world for 1,000 years: “Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years” (Revelation 20:6 Revelation 20:6Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
American King James Version×
). The resurrection of these faithful servants of Jesus Christ to eternal life at the beginning of that 1,000 years is only the first resurrection (Revelation 20:4-6 Revelation 20:4-6 4 And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark on their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
American King James Version×
).

All the dead will be resurrected

At the end of the 1,000 years, God will resurrect all others who have ever lived throughout human history to stand before Him in judgment (Revelation 20:11-12 Revelation 20:11-12 11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
American King James Version×
). This is far larger than the first resurrection; it is the resurrection of “the rest of the dead” (Revelation 20:5 Revelation 20:5But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
American King James Version×
). At that time God will raise from the grave people from all nations, along with the people of Israel—all resurrected together (Matthew 11:20-24 Matthew 11:20-24 20 Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: 21 Woe to you, Chorazin! woe to you, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I say to you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, which are exalted to heaven, shall be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in you, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24 But I say to you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you.
American King James Version×
; Matthew 12:41-42 Matthew 12:41-42 41 The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here. 42 The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.
American King James Version×
).

“Do not marvel at this,” Jesus said; “for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation [or, rather, judgment, as other versions translate]” (John 5:28-29 John 5:28-29 28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, 29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, to the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, to the resurrection of damnation.
American King James Version×
).

Those who rise in this general resurrection—the resurrection of judgment —will live again as mortal, flesh-and-blood human beings (compare Ezekiel 37:1-10 Ezekiel 37:1-10 1 The hand of the LORD was on me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the middle of the valley which was full of bones, 2 And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, see, they were very dry. 3 And he said to me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, you know. 4 Again he said to me, Prophesy on these bones, and say to them, O you dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. 5 Thus said the Lord GOD to these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live: 6 And I will lay sinews on you, and will bring up flesh on you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the LORD. 7 So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. 8 And when I beheld, see, the sinews and the flesh came up on them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them. 9 Then said he to me, Prophesy to the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus said the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live. 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up on their feet, an exceeding great army.
American King James Version×
). Then they will learn God’s ways, acknowledge their sins and receive His Spirit. Then they, too, can receive immortality.

Ezekiel describes the resurrection of all Israel at that time: “Thus says the Lord God: ‘Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves…I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken it and performed it,’ says the Lord” (Ezekiel 37:12-14 Ezekiel 37:12-14 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them, Thus said the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. 13 And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, 14 And shall put my spirit in you, and you shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall you know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, said the LORD.
American King James Version×
). (For more information on this vital topic, download or request our free booklet What Happens After Death? )

Christians are the firstfruits of the redeemed. They live in a deceived world, and they must strive to be “blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom [they] shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15 Philippians 2:15That you may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the middle of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom you shine as lights in the world;
American King James Version×
).

The Church: the Body of Christ

We have already seen that Jesus Christ told His followers to go into all the world, making disciples of all nations and teaching people God’s way of life. This takes cooperation and organization. To effectively describe the organized functioning of the people of God, the apostles used the analogy of the human body.

“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues [or languages]” (1 Corinthians 12:27-28 1 Corinthians 12:27-28 27 Now you are the body of Christ, and members in particular. 28 And God has set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
American King James Version×
, NIV).

Directing the work of the Church as its living Head is Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:18 Colossians 1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
American King James Version×
). To emphasize how dependent the Church is on His leadership and inspiration, Jesus compares Himself to a vine: “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5 John 15:5I am the vine, you are the branches: He that stays in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing.
American King James Version×
). The success of the Church is dependent on the power and inspiration it receives from Jesus Christ.

Functions within the Body of Christ are established by Him “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-12 Ephesians 4:11-12 11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
American King James Version×
, NRSV).

Paul tells us that “there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone” (1 Corinthians 12:4-6 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which works all in all.
American King James Version×
, NRSV).

Spiritual leadership in the Church

Among the gifts Christ gives His Church are gifts of spiritual leadership—apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (Ephesians 4:11 Ephesians 4:11And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
American King James Version×
). They are entrusted with the responsibility of preaching the gospel and of teaching, nourishing, protecting and building the Church. Godly character and exemplary spiritual qualifications are required of those entrusted with spiritual leadership (1 Timothy 3:1-10 1 Timothy 3:1-10 1 This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desires a good work. 2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach; 3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; 4 One that rules well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) 6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. 8 Likewise must the deacons be grave, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; 9 Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. 10 And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.
American King James Version×
; Titus 1:5-9 Titus 1:5-9 5 For this cause left I you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed you: 6 If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. 7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; 8 But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; 9 Holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the disputers.
American King James Version×
).

These are to lovingly shepherd God’s flock (John 21:15-17 John 21:15-17 15 So when they had dined, Jesus said to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, love you me more than these? He said to him, Yes, Lord; you know that I love you. He said to him, Feed my lambs. 16 He said to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, love you me? He said to him, Yes, Lord; you know that I love you. He said to him, Feed my sheep. 17 He said to him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, love you me? Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, Love you me? And he said to him, Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you. Jesus said to him, Feed my sheep.
American King James Version×
) so that all members of this spiritual body may “come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13 Ephesians 4:13Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:
American King James Version×
).

They are to lead the people of God to work together in unity—to love, respect and support each other: “But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other” (1 Corinthians 12:24-25 1 Corinthians 12:24-25 24 For our comely parts have no need: but God has tempered the body together, having given more abundant honor to that part which lacked. 25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.
American King James Version×
, NIV).

Those who are led by Jesus Christ recognize a common Spirit in each other—the very Spirit of God, which makes them the people of God. It should lead them to work together in unity to accomplish the mission Christ gave the Church and its ministry of preaching the gospel to the world and helping the spiritual growth and development of those who become fellow believers.

The Church Jesus built is that special body of people who, led by the Holy Spirit, obey God’s commandments and are zealously committed to accomplishing the commission Jesus gave them.

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