We are looking at why MBF exists as a church. Through this exercise, we are examining our programs, our manner of conducting business, our approach to teaching the Word of God, the validity of our goals and a few other things to see if they stand the scrutiny of the Scriptures. Obviously membership in the church, whether local or universal, should be reserved only for those who have accepted Christ as their Savior. The Holy Spirit uses the physical body and its function to illustrate the spiritual function of the Church of Jesus Christ, and refers to the church as the Body of Christ. In an effort to provide us with a clear understanding of the church and its function, the Holy Spirit also uses such things as a building, a bride, a priesthood, a marriage relationship, etc. to illustrate the uniqueness of this new relationship called the church. Each of these illustrations along with others point out, in a physical manner, how and what this spiritual relationship is, and how it functions. When we blend and harmonize all of these illustrations, they give us a very good perspective of the real thing, the Church of Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 2:6 Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, "Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame." 7 Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, "The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone," 8 and "A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense." They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed. 9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.

The Lord Jesus Christ is the one and only foundation upon which the church universal is built, and He is the one and only foundation upon which any local church should be built. So many local churches are started and built on the foundation of: “We didn’t like the church we were attending! So therefore, we started a church that will correct all the things we didn’t like in the last one!”

Starting and building a church on the premise of: “We’ll show you, and we will be better than you!” is not a very stable foundation. God is so gracious, and sometimes blesses in spite of our stupid arrogance! If you look at the constitutions of many churches, you will find that their articles of operation are so worded as to say, “we will not be like the church we came from”. This is often true of Independent Bible Churches and other such churches. Then there is the flip side. Many denominational type churches simply have a carbon copy of the constitution of the mother church. We want to be like the other church, even though we don’t know why we want to be like it. No local church should be built on the premises that: “We want be different than the other church”, or “We want to be just like the other church”.

Following this pattern of organization, simply makes the good or the bad of some other church the basis or foundation for their own existence. The only foundation for any local church must be Christ, and Christ alone. The basis of operation of a local church should be the marching orders given by Christ, spelled out in the epistles. When a local church is solidly founded on these two areas, then articles of operation should spell out how that local body of Believers intends to carry out Christ’s marching orders in their unique sphere of existence. Because they did not know the Scriptures, nor did they understand their relationship to Christ, H e became the stumbling stone, and rock of offense to the Jewish nation in His first advent to this earth, Likewise, many local churches find Christ to be a stumbling stone to their plans of operation, for the same reasons. Many local churches are little more than community centers with a religious flavor. Then there is the opposite type of church. This other type of church is little more than a command center from which orders are given to direct the daily behavior of those who have the misfortune be a part of such an organization.

At Christ’s first advent to this earth, the concept of the Church was a new and different thing to the religious crowd. It was new only in the fact that it had not been revealed in other ages as it was revealed after the Holy Spirit came to indwell Believers. The concept of the church was old in that it was in the heart and mind of God even before the worlds were formed. The Church was always a part of God’s Eternal Plan. It was not until Christ became the Redeemer of the world through His death on the Cross, and the Holy Spirit was given as the Seal and Down-payment of that redemption that God would or could reveal this part of the eternal plan by which a human could become a part of the spiritual Body of Christ. Because the human mind had never observed such a thing as the church, God gave a special call, and special wisdom to Paul to present this revelation of the Church, the Body of Christ, and make it known to mankind in a correlated and understandable manner. Even though the Church of Jesus Christ is made up of all who have accepted Jesus as their Savior, the information concerning the Church was given to, and is applicable to the local church.

Ephesians 3:1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles-- 2 if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, 3 how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I wrote before in a few words, 4 by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), 5 which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: 6 that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel, 7 of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power.

Paul received, from God, a dispensation of grace for this task.

dispensation = (Webster) A furnishing or tendering according to a prescribed rite or formula.

God, by special revelation, gave to Paul the rite or formula concerning the Church:

Paul was charged by God to give us the formula of the Church’s existence, organization and function. Paul took this opportunity and obligation very seriously. He wrote 13 epistles. 9 were sent and addressed to local churches. 4 were sent and addressed to individuals. Unless Paul also wrote the book of Hebrews, all of his epistles were directed to local churches, or individuals. None were general epistles written to the Universal Church at large, unless we are to consider Ephesians as a general epistle.

All of that, and much more provides pretty good evidence that Christ’s Church, built on the foundation stone of Christ, was to function through local bodies of Believers who banded together for the purpose of carrying out the function of the church. This fact becomes a bit stronger when we realize that:

The universal church is Christ’s church. However, there are very few, if any instructions to the universal church as to how that universal church is to function and carry out Christ’s Great Commission. With all its imperfections, God uses the local church to carry out His purpose for the universal church, the Body of Christ. Some would object by saying or asking, “God certainly would not limit Himself to the pettiness and imperfection of local churches to carry out His work?” To the human mind and reason, God does work in humanly strange ways.

1 Corinthians 1:22 For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. 27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence.
Romans 11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!

I, too, have a problem with the logic God uses when it comes to doing His work. If I were God, I wouldn’t trust my Eternal Plan to a bunch of church folks like you. Now, don’t throw eggs, be honest! Would you want to trust this bunch with your eternal treasures and plans? Aren’t you glad God doesn’t work like we do? One reason God works as He does is so “no flesh should glory in His presence”. When the program of a local church is allowed to be the show place for human exhibition or humanistic demonstrations and programs, that local church is failing in their service to and for God. This is one of the areas in which we have to constantly be on guard.

A person sees another whose service places them in the lime-light, such as singing, teaching, songleading, etc and to this observer, they see that the one in the lime-light receives recognition and human attention. The observer says to self, “Self, I would like some of that human glory for myself.” So, they attempt to serve in a public manner, so that they can receive human acclamation and glory. Any time we allow the public service of the church to become the stage for someone to generate human glory, we have turned the sacred service of God into a demonic sanctuary for the idol worship of self! No one should serve so that service will make them feel better, feel accepted, etc. You should never find acceptance in a church because you serve. Your acceptance should be based on who you are in Christ, and how you live based on the fact that you are in Christ. Service to God should be only for the glory of God, and “so no flesh should glory in His presence”, as we have seen in 1 Corinthians 1:29.

We have developed a society that thrives on:

Let me tell you, true ministry doesn’t always feel good!

2 Corinthians 6:4-11 But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, 5 in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings; 6 by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love, 7 by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, 8 by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; 9 as unknown, and yet well-known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things. 11 O Corinthians! We have spoken openly to you, our heart is wide open.

Don’t get me wrong! There is great joy in public service to God. However, I will guarantee you there are more stresses, sleepless nights, misunderstandings, heartaches, burdens, etc., than there is glory in the public service for God.

Proper service will receive its reward and glory in eternity. If perchance you receive some human acclamation or physical reward during this life as a result of your Biblical service, don't take it too seriously. Thank God for it, enjoy it while you can, and keep moving on in service. Your real reward will come from the hand of Christ, not by the applause of men. If your motive for public service is not pure, and for the glory of God only, then please don’t put yourself in that dangerous position, or put me in that awkward position of trying to figure out if your desire is self-service, or service to God. On the other hand, if God has laid His hand on you for public service of any kind, don’t turn away from that call, whether teen or adult! Jonah found that a three day vacation from God’s service, even in a whale of a motel at sea was not worth it. Public service for God is not something that should be taken lightly, nor should you serve so you’ll feel better, or to pump up your self-image, or so you can get into the inner circle of the church, whatever that is.

Romans 8:36-37 As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." 37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
2 Corinthians 4:5 For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. 6 For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed-- 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 11 For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus' sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
2 Corinthians 11:25 Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness-- 28 besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation?

If your public service is not conducted in the constant atmosphere of deep concern for the church, or for the whole Body, don’t serve! Our service to God is often so shallow. We come to church, and sometimes serve, but often it is not for God or the church. Too often, our service in the church is: so my kids can..., so my needs are..., so my spouse..., so my... I get so sick and tired of hearing by voice or implication my... is all supreme. My heart breaks when I see the attitude of my feelings, my time... my way... my... my... my. "I want this. I want that, what about others? What about the body, the church? What about God? Where is that deep concernfor the church? Please don’t give me that garbage straight from the pit of hell, “That’s just the way I am. So you will have to take me or leave me.” (Don’t tempt me.) When you talk, when you act, when you pray, when you serve, where is that deep concern for the rest of the body?

No, God did not say we were to neglect ourselves, or our family in order to serve God. However, if you are a part of the Body, what’s good for the Body is, also, good for you and yours. If the Body suffers, you and your family suffer, also.

Philippians 2:3-5 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,

Paul, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, has such a way with words. He cuts right through all our nice sounding religious phrases, and says in effect, “Put your money where you mouth is! Be a real Christian, a Christ-one’.” If we don’t have this attitude and that deep concern for the church, there really isn’t much need of knowing the academic reality of what the church is, and what it is supposed to be doing.

Look back for a moment to our passage in 2 Corinthians 11. Paul gives us quite a list of stresses that he has experienced in his ministry for the gospel:

Most of us will never have such a list resulting from our service to God. I pray that we will never experience these things! However, if the tone of world’s opinion continues as is, some of us may live to see the day that if we are to stand for Christ, it will cost us dearly. Most of us would consider that list of unpleasant things a burden beyond our ability to bear. However, notice Paul’s perspective of his situation resulting from service. In v. 28 Paul says, in effect, here is a partial listing of service related events in my life, but the greatest and most important is one that happens in my life daily. That event? Why it’s the care and deep concern for the churches. I’m so weary of the games people play, and have the audacity to call them church, or even pawn them off as religious. Maybe I’m just a little bit crazy. Maybe I’m just a crotchety old man. But maybeI’m learning the value of a day, the importance of eternity and the emptiness of this new religious society. Whatever it is, I hope I never turn back, but only grow stronger and stronger in that reality, no matter the cost. Unless we are of the mind to follow God’s instructions for the church, it is of little value simply to study facts about that church. Knowledge alone, and not acted upon only brings greater judgment.

Some of the few instructions concerning the church that were not given to a local church are known as the Great Commission. The Great Commission is the marching orders for the entire church of Jesus Christ. No one church, or even a group of churches could carry out that all encompassing commission. Each local church will have to decide what part of, and to what extent they will attempt, as a local church, to fulfill this commission. If each member of each local church were doing their God given share, the commission would be in a continual state of being fulfilled.

Ephesians 4:10-16 He (Christ) who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.) 11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness by which they lie in wait to deceive, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head--Christ-- 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

Christ gave to the church gifted men for the purpose of equipping the saints for the work of the ministry, and the edifying of the Body. When the saints are being equipped and edified, and are putting to work that which they have received, then the whole body grows up in Christ. This full and total growth of the Body can only take place when each and every member in that Body is doing its part and share according to the grace given by God for that service. Anything less causes the body to be weak, and unable to function properly in the ministry of God through Christ.

Let’s start our examination of the marching orders of Christ for His church, and see what is involved in this Great Commission. What Christ really told His church to do, may come as a surprise to some. Very seldom is the Great Commission presented as it was given, and in its entirety. What we hear and know of the Great Commission is usually: “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature”. That is certainly contained in the Great Commission, but that is only part of the Great Commission, and it doesn’t even make up the greatest part of that commission.

Mark 16:15 And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.
Luke 24:46-49 Then He said to them, "Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, 47 "and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 "And you are witnesses of these things. 49 "Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high."
Matthew 28:18 Then Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 "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." Amen.

As you can see from Matt 28:19, as a church we are to go plan parties, have socials, promote ball games, etc. When we have been engaged in these activities sufficiently, Christ will be with us to the end of the age. No, I’m afraid I read that from the New Reversed Translation. None of those activities are wrong in and of themselves. Those activities, however, are not the commission of Christ to His church. These activities, and others may be very appropriate as tools to aid in fulfilling the commission of Christ. However, we must be very careful not to make the tools of the ministry, the ministry itself. The commission of Christ to the Church falls nicely into 4 major divisions:

After the Easter season, we will be back to our study. At which time we will look at How to Destroy a Local Church. This sport of church demolition seems to be one of the favorite past times of many Christians. If we know how to destroy a church, then we can take steps to prevent such destruction. After we have our Church Demolition lessons, we want to examine what aspect of this commission MBF has chosen as our major goals. In closing, let me leave you with our Statement of Purpose.

The Purpose of Manchaca Bible Fellowship

The purpose of this church is to be obedient to the commission of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, when He said,

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them of observe all things that I have commanded you...
-- Matthew 28:19-20

We will endeavor to fulfill this commission through

We will seek to foster within our members a Biblical attitude and respect for the family and child raising, for missions at home and around the world, and for worship, including the ordinances of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

We will seek to foster the Biblical concept of true spiritual worship and fellowship in contrast to ritual, dress, status and tradition.”

© Clyde White, Austin TX, 1998