What Is the Church For?
“It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer...” --Matthew 21:13
“Young men, and maidens; old men, and children; Let them praise the name of the Lord: for his name alone is excellent.” --Ps. 149:12,13.
In the cleansing of the Temple, Jesus gives us the definition of the church, which is the Temple of God, according to 1Cor. 4:16,17. Subverting the church to some other purpose is a great sin.
My grandfather was a carpenter, and a very good one. I have an ice chest that he made more than 65 years ago. He made me a little workshop one summer so that I could learn to use tools, and told me something that I will never forget. “Bud,” he said. “Always use the tool for what it is meant. If you use a tool for some other purpose, you will either break the tool, or ruin the work.”
I. It Must Be a Place of Preaching. It is by the preaching of the Gospel that men are saved from sin, and made fit for prayer. (Rom. 1:16; 1Cor. 1:18). The prayer of the wicked is an abomination (Prov. 28:9), for without faith it is impossible to please God. (Heb. 11:6)
II. It Must Be a Place of Confession. Christ denies those who deny Him, and our prayers will not be accepted if we do not confess him before men. (Matt. 10:32 and Romans 10:9,10). The Apostles' Creed is an important part of worship at Trinity Covenant Church, for by its use we publicly confess the faith that was once for all given to the saints. (Jude 3). In a sense, it is a defiant challenge to the world, the flesh, and the devil, for it is partly by our confession that we overcome the world. (Rev. 12:11)
III. It Must Be a Place of Praise. The chief part of prayer is thanksgiving and praise to God (Psalm 50:14,15). God has given us great hymns and songs to use in this praise, for we enjoy the heritage of centuries of great hymnology.
IV. It Must Be a Place of Forgiveness. The Gospel makes much of the grace and mercy of God; the sacraments emphasize the blood and death of Christ as an atonement for sins, for the church is built upon grace. This grace must be manifest in the lives of the worshippers as they forbear and forgive one another (Col. 3:13). The church is holy, and the altar sanctifies all who truly worship there. (Heb. 9:11-15; Heb. 12:10ff; Matt. 23:19; Romans 12:1,2)
V. It Must Be a Place of Sound Doctrine and Truth. Idolaters do not know what they worship, and worship the vanity of men's minds, but the Christian is “renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him...” (Col. 3:10) Without sound doctrine we will pray to that which is no God, and rest in that which is no promise.
VI. It Must Be a Place of Reading the Scripture. Some churches no longer even read the bible, except for a text or two in the sermon. But true prayer rests on the promises of Scripture, and cannot exist apart from these promises.
VII. It Must Be a Place for All the Saints: Families, Singles, Widows, Orphans, and Children. Ps. 149 calls on the young, the old, the children to praise the Lord. Families who are believers should worship together. Fathers should teach their children to regard and respect the worship of the Lord: to join in the confessions, the prayers, the singing, and the responsive reading of Scripture. Even very tiny children will discern something in the worship of the Lord, and will become used to worship, if there is true worship. A nursery is useful so that worship will not be disturbed when small children are fussy, but even small children very early can learn to sit quietly.
The church is not a place for fun and games, or primarily for socializing; families must learn to be hospitable as a Christian duty (I Pet. 4:9), and not slough off this duty to the church. If families played together, we would not need to play in church.
What do the young need at church? Exactly the same thing that adults need: a place of prayer and worship, to hear faithful preaching of the Bible; to join in singing the great hymns; to confess the faith once delivered to the saints; to be taught the great truths of the faith, to join in Bible reading and prayer. Will they think this is all they need? Probably not, especially if they have been geared to the pleasure-centered, entertainment-centered program. But the kid needs vegetables, even if he would rather eat Chocolate Covered Sugar Bombs.
Too many family responsibilities, and individual responsibilities and privileges have been abandoned to the state and to the church: education, welfare, health; the church entertains, plays games, tries to feel good. But that is not what the Church was made to be.
John the Baptist was a voice crying in the wilderness (John 1:23). Today the church is often too much a part of the wilderness of pleasure-seeking, amusement, prestige-seeking, and worldly gain. Return to Menu
Pastor C. W. Powell
Trinity Covenant Church (R.C.U.S.)
6050 Del Paz Drive
Colorado Springs, CO 80918