The Purpose of the Church


By Charles Yeakel

“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:” 1 Peter 2:9 KJV

The Church has existed for almost 2,000 years. It has survived attacks of every imaginable sort — persecution, compromise, poverty, etc. But God did not institute the Church that it might merely continue to exist. The Church was established to do, not simply to be. And so, the obvious question is, “What is the true purpose of the Church?” The answer is found in the concluding phrase of 1 Peter 2:9.

Before Peter explained the purpose of the Church, he employed four descriptive phrases to present the Church in all her splendor and glory:

1.”A chosen generation”.– The.Churchis a group of people who have been born of God ad are thus related by spiritual birth. This group has been selected by the Lord and make up a special breed.
2. “A royal priesthood” — All believers are spiritual priests with the right and responsibility of approaching the King, both for themselves and for others.
3. “A holy nation” — The Church is a group of people who have given themselves to God and are dedicated to His work and will.
4. “A peculiar people” — The Church is the exclusive property of God, a special treasure, carefully tended to by Him.

Having spoken of the grandeur of the Church, Peter proceeds to explain the purpose of the great body of believers — “that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” Here is the intent for the Church:

We are to bear a message. To “shew forth” means “to proclaim” or “to tell out.” Believers arc to publish, proclaim, divulge, and to act as messengers. The form of the word indicates a complete proclamation of the matter (Acts 20:26-27). This phrase presents a picture ofa messenger who is sent with a message. God has a message that He wants the whole world to hear — the gospel of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). The Church is God’s envoy, sent to proclaim the message (2 Corinthians 5:17-20). If this particular message is to be delivered, it must be done through the Church. Governments won’t do it; political parties won’t promote it; secular educational institutions won’t teach it; mainline denominations won’t proclaim it.

The Church has been given the responsibility of bearing the message for the One “who called us…” As we discovered earlier, we have been chosen — He has called us by name to enjoy certain privileges and benefits (2 Timothy 1:9, 1 Corinthians 1:9). This call involves a charge or commission to service (Romans 1:1, 7). We are charged to fulfill the responsibilities involved in the four descriptive phrases mentioned in the first part of 1 Peter 2:9.

Where were we at before we received this call? In spiritual darkness! He called us “out of darkness.” The word “darkness” has a very significant meaning in scripture. It is used: (1) of the state of the unsaved (Ephesians 5:8); (2) as a symbol of evil (Romans 13:12); and (3) of Satan’s domain (Colossians 1:13). In Greek, the word is traced back to a root which means “to cover.” It indicates something which covers a person casting a shadow upon him, putting him in darkness. Such was our condition before Jesus saved us.

The result of the call is that He has brought us “into His marvelous light.” We stepped out of the shadows of sin into the Son-light! The word “light” here refers to the source of true light God (1 John 1:5). The term “marvelous” has reference to something so dazzling or splendid that it overwhelms the mind of a person. When we think about how the Lord brought us out of the kingdom of darkness into His household, it is enough to overwhelm our minds (1 Corinthians 6:9-10! The greatest “before and after” stories are among us as we gather together to worship our Savior.

The message we are to proclaim is “the praises.” The word for “praises” originally referred to “manifestations of divine power.” This term was used to describe the miraculous or wonderful deeds which were performed by a god. So, the purpose of the Church is that God would have a body of people who act as messengers and go into all the world publicizing the mighty acts which He has performed (Psalm 150:2, 107:2). The word “praise” also refers to “moral excellence resulting from the manifestation of divine power.” So, it is our responsibility to act as an envoy, going everywhere and telling others of how God manifested His miracle-working power on our behalf, transforming our lives from the realm of darkness into the sphere of light. After all, what greater proof is there of God’s power than that of a changed life.

In conclusion, the Church has been raised up by the Lord as a special breed, who intercede for mankind, who are dedicated to the work and will of God, who are His property, to be living witnesses of the life-changing, life-imparting power of God. The Church has a purpose — let us get on with the business at hand!