Books of Bible
The New Testament Church
By Louis Rushmore
Is Divine In Mission
The church about which one can read upon the pages of the New Testament has a divine mission. This
mission is, however, three-fold. Further, the Lord's church is the only institution possessing this mission. The
churches and organizations of men, while attempting to participate in the divine mission, fail to fulfill the same,
in as much as they are not the church for which Jesus died, which he built, and to which he assigned these
The divine mission of the church is not political, but is harmonious with responsible civil
government, and may even influence it. Neither is it primarily social in nature, though the mission of the
church may favorably affect interpersonal relationships. The church's mission is not secular in scope, but it
may alter social and economic conditions. Further, this mission is not material, but it may involve the use of
things physical in its fulfillment. The divine mission of the church pertains to spiritual matters and involves the
continuation ". . . of all that Jesus began both to do and teach" (Acts 1:1). What was the mission of
our Lord (Luke 19:10) became the mission of the apostles (Matthew 28:18-20) and has been passed down to
each generation of Christians (2 Timothy 2:2). The Book of Acts, among other considerations, is the history
book of first century mission work; it represents the doing of the mission of the church.
Unlike the television show MISSION IMPOSSIBLE that was popular for two decades, the Lord's
church has a God-given mission that is possible. Not only is its mission possible, but the church is
obligated to accept the mission; the familiar line from the TV series ". . . should you decide to
accept this mission . . ." does not apply to the Lord's church and the Christians of which it is comprised.
The overriding tenor of the church's divine mission is evangelizing the lost; the lost are constituted of both
non-Christians and erring Christians (Mark 16:15-16; James 5:19-20). Though perhaps not usually recognized
as such, evangelism is an indispensable and identifying characteristic of the church of the Bible; no
congregation today can successfully claim identity with the New Testament church while down-playing or
Jesus Christ prophesied that the known world would have the opportunity to hear the Gospel within one
generation of his earthly ministry (Matthew 24:14); twice in the first chapter of Colossians, the apostle Paul
affirmed the fulfillment of our Lord's prophecy (Colossians 1:6, 23). Evangelism was mission
possible in the first century despite comparatively primitive mediums with which to proclaim the Gospel.
Today, in spite of the earth's multi-billion population, especially in view of the sophisticated means of
communication available to us, the church has the capacity to evangelize the world in each generation.
Evangelism is still the church's mission possible; not only so, but evangelism is obligatory on
the church and each Christian.
Edification of the church (1 Corinthians 14:12) and benevolence toward sinners and saints (Galatians 6:10;
James 1:27; Acts 6:1-7) are parts two and three of the three-fold mission of the church. Both of these charges
also indirectly contribute to evangelism and its effectiveness. Everything the church has a right or
responsibility to perform relates to one or more of the elements of the three-fold mission of the church.
Edification or spiritual maturity is essential to the well-being of the church, each member, and the success
of the overall mission of the church. Unfortunately, as in the first century, today too, many Christians fail to
properly mature in the Gospel (Hebrews 5:11-6:2). The means by which every soul can mature or be edified is
readily available. "And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which
is able to build you up . . ." (Acts 20:32). "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the
word, that ye may grow thereby" (1 Peter 2:2). The Christian graces in particular and the Scriptures
in general can edify us (2 Peter 1:5-10; 2 Timothy 3:16-17). Once well on the road to edification, one can
contribute to the spiritual growth of fellow Christians and answer the questions of non-Christians (1 Peter 3:15).
Benevolence (or Christian love set in motion) toward those within and without the church was gladly
shouldered by the first century church. The immediate needs of new converts closely following the
establishment of the church were met by generous Christians in Jerusalem (Acts 2:44-45; 4:34-35). The church
in Antioch of Syria also responded with Christian charity toward the less fortunate in Judaea during a time of
famine (Acts 11:27-30). Churches in Macedonia and Achaia likewise practiced benevolence toward needy
saints in Jerusalem (Romans 15:25-26). Galatians 6:10 permits the same benevolent treatment of
non-Christians (only a preference is encouraged toward Christians first). "As we have therefore
opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith."
Some Things are not the Mission of the Church
Some things are not the mission of the church because they are part of the mission of another divine
institution, the home. For instance, entertainment is strictly a function of the home, as are secular education,
marriages and attendant bridal showers, funerals, baby showers, and such like. However, this fact does not
necessarily preclude the use of the meeting house (the church, strictly speaking, is not mortar, stone and
wood, but people). Properly, though, the home should sponsor and finance these affairs.
Some things are not the mission of the church because they are possible missions of individuals,
governments or other organizations, but are not assigned in Scripture to the Lord's church. Since the New
Testament church is directed by the Gospel to finance itself through freewill offerings (1 Corinthians 16:1-2;
2 Corinthians 9:6-7), business enterprises as such have no place in the church. Neither may the church
champion wholly political propositions or parties (except some political issues that pertain to morality or other
Bible subjects, which, of course, the church should address as widely as feasible).
Churches of Men Have No Divine Mission
Jesus decried the efforts of Jewish religious leaders of his day to remake Judaism into something more
palatable to merely human whims. Speaking of these efforts of reorganization of God-given religion, Jesus
said, ". . . Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up"
(Matthew 15:13). A few verses before this, our Lord condemned the human teaching that fostered this departure
from Judaism as God gave it. "This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me
with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the
commandments of men" (Matthew 15:8-9).
Biblically speaking, there is only ONE CHURCH! Several passages illustrate truths about the church
by comparing it to a body (Romans 12:4-5; 1 Corinthians 12:12-13; Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18); these
verses directly or indirectly affirm that the church is called the body and is single, only one. Ephesians 4:4
plainly declares this fact: "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of
Further, Jesus promised to build one church, his church (Matthew 16:18). This one church, variously
named, originated in the mind of God. Denominations, world religions and all other sects are the product of
human ingenuity, not God's eternal purpose (Ephesians 3:10-11). The church of divine origin alone has a
divine mission! Churches of men exist in opposition to the New Testament and the divine church of which it
speaks; these non-divine churches, therefore, are incapable of assuming the divine church mission. They
cannot violate the Gospel by their existence in opposition to the divine church and at the same time faithfully
proclaim the Gospel. Their mere existence is a faithless representation of the Word of God.
The New Testament church and the Christians of which it is comprised have a divine mission. No one else
has the right to try nor indeed can succeed in fulfilling the mission of the Lord's church. If God's people today
do not take upon themselves this responsibility, no one will. No one else can!
The time to perform the mission of the church is NOW! The New Testament does not charge
Christians to do one thing tomorrow nor yesterday, but now. The mission of the church as
portrayed in the Bible is one of extreme urgency. The church must act now, because its mission is
divinely appointed and the sin-sick and dying world desperately needs to be saved. In addition to the upper
call of God and the outer call of the world, each Christian should be pervaded with an inner call or desire to
save lost souls.
We must, with the apostle Paul, similarly say with conviction: "So, as much as in me is, I am ready to
preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power
of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek,"