Simply stated, the purpose of the church is holiness. In other words, the church exists to be holy. The basic meaning of holy is unique and set apart. The church is God’s called out people set apart to Him. Understanding the biblical purpose of the church eliminates man-centeredness. The meaning of holiness also includes purity and perfection, which stand against the tendency to make the church look like culture in order to please men.
In Chuck Colson’s “Against the Night”, he observed that the church had become just like the world. D.L. Moody once compared the visible church to a ship in the sea. He said, “The place for the ship is in the sea, but God help the ship if the sea gets in it. Just as the place for the church is in the world, but God help the church if the world gets in it.” The Bible uses the metaphor of a bride to describe the church. She is the bride of Christ. She is the holy Jerusalem that the Apostle John was allowed to see coming down from heaven. Jesus Christ died for the church, Ephesians 5:25 to make her holy.
For the church to be holy, all its members are likewise to be holy. The individual members of the church were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy, (Ephesians 1:4.) God doesn’t leave this to the will of men. God sanctifies each and every believer. That is, He makes every member of His church more and more like Christ. He does so by the power of His Spirit who takes His word written and applies it to our hearts so that we might live holy lives for His glory.
This, by God’s design, is to take place within the visible church. 1 Peter 2:4-5, “As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
The church does not exist to entertain us or to make us “feel” good about ourselves. The church is to be the place where the people of God are instructed to pursue godliness in the power of the Holy Spirit who works in concert with the Word.
Lou Tiscione is pastor Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA).