Why Church? What's the Purpose?
"His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Eph 3:10-11).
I was pondering Ephesians 3:10-11 this morning. I just have to say WOW! God is wonderful. Did you catch what the verse is saying? God has had a purpose for a long time: an "eternal purpose". The previous verse says that for "ages" the mystery of Christ had been hidden. At just the "right time" Christ came and died for the ungodly (Rom. 5:6). And there was an eternal purpose for it all.
His intent, or purpose, according to Ephesians 3:10-11 was to make known his wisdom to the "rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms". Perhaps the "rulers and authorities" are angels, perhaps angels and demons. Either way, the church is supposed to live in such a way that it makes God look very wise. When people, or angels, or demons see God's people, functioning as "one body" (Eph. 3:6) they will say, "wow, God's ways are best; he is all-wise!" This is God's intent.
Yes, God also wants people to recognize his glory as they observe the church. He hopes that men would see the love of the church and then come to him. But his plan, his purpose, his intent is even greater than this. There are other observers, "rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms", who are looking on. And God has an eternal purpose that they will see his manifold wisdom through the church!
"To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen" (Eph 3:21).
Right now, in this generation (and in all generations), there needs to be glory coming to God as a result of the church. How ought God's people to conduct themselves? How ought they to love one another, to sacrifice for one another, to lay down their very lives for one another? If God's people REALLY believe that eternity is more important than temporary things, how will they live?
Later in Ephesians, God has a wonderful description of the church. It says very clearly why Christ died and what kind of church he is building:
Eph 5:25-27 ...Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
Is that your "church experience"? First of all, are you part of a "body"? Are you part of a "radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless"? Literally. Practically. So that all the "rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms" will not be able to do anything but cry out, "God is wise!".
What is commonly called "church" falls so far short of these things! It is not God's will that we fall short! His will is that we display his wisdom by being a radiant church! Praise God that there is a remnant. There are people on earth today who are bringing God glory like Ephesians 3:10-11 says. But there are very few (Luke 13:24, Matt 7:14). Few churches would fit the Biblical description of being part of the "pillar and foundation of the truth" (1 Tim. 3:15).
If you're reading this, I guess that I'm hoping that you will not make excuses and say that all these things are impossible and that God is hoping for something that won't happen. No, Jesus died for these things. And Ephesians 3:11 says that not only did he purpose or intend to receive glory through the church, but he also made it possible--he "accomplished" it through Christ! May he receive what he died for.
Ephesians 4:1 I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received
Colossians 1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.