The Mission and Work of the Church
Billy W. Moore
Now, may I ask, what is the purpose of the church of the Lord? Suppose I discuss the negative side first. I may say some things with which you do not agree, but I bid you hear me regardless. I do not consider it a part of the work of the church to try to run the government Again, I say to you, with caution and thought, that it is not the world of the church to furnish entertainment for the members. And yet many churches have drifted into such an effort. They enlarge their basements, put in all kinds of gymnastic apparatus, and make every sort of an appeal to the young people of the congregation. I have never read anything in the Bible that indicated to me that such was a part of the work of the church. I am wholly ignorant of any Scripture that even points in that direction. Furthermore, it is not the work of the church to try to adjust labor troubles, or to supervise our social conditions. It was never intended that the church should run politics, stop wars, supervise public morals, pr to be any kind of a collecting agency to pile up a large sum of money. The church should not go into the banking business....
The work of the church can be stated under three heads: (1) the building up of every member in it; (2) the work of benevolence (3) the preaching of the gospel to sinful humanity. Now, back to the first, the building up of the membership. I think if you will travel around as much as some of us do and have your eyes open, you will observe that about twenty-five percent of the average church assumes its whole responsibility. I have thought many times that if just a few members of any congregation were to quit, the doors would be closed altogether.... Surely every member of the church should be developed and thus stand on the front line. There is no place for the weakling. We enter the church as newborn babes, regardless of our years, our furrowed cheeks, or our silver hairs. The natural law is to grow and develop. There are some fundamental facts.... to observe in order to our physical growth, and the same is true in matters spiritual.
Many times we convert men that are quite intelligent and they are in fine circumstances. They have much influence and are prominent in all affairs. The temptation is to put them in the pulpit or appoint them as elders of the church. Let us ever remember that they are as yet babes and that it takes time for them to grow. They are novices. Feed them with the milk of God's Word and give them proper exercise. It is the duty of the overseers to feed and to develop the members of any church. To do so does not require the organization of something unknown to the Bible. Many brethren have looked upon our young people's meetings with some degree of suspicion. If we are not careful, we may have an organization not at all different from others that we now condemn. Really, brethren, I have failed to find anywhere in the Bible where there is a difference made in teaching or church work between a young fellow and an old fellow. Just where is that passage which intimates that the church should be divided according to years? Brethren Srygley and Tant thought that such distinctions evidenced our drifting away. To say the least of such, there is danger. I submit to you preachers that we should be exceeding careful lest, in our enthusiasm to make a big show, we turn apart from the straight and narrow path and have within our midst something that the Lord does not want.
To build up every member, I conceive to be one work of the church. See to it, brethren, that in your congregation every member is built up and knows what it is all about.
But again I said to you there is a benevolent work to be done. In Eph. 4: 28 Paul said: "Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth." It is surely a false conception and a mistaken idea for a preacher to fancy that he is too good to use his hands in doing that which is honorable and needs to be done . . . when something needs to be done, I am none too good to lay aside my coat and go to it. I would be ashamed of myself if I did not have that attitude toward the affairs of life. I love to be in position that I can give to some worthy cause. "As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men." Be like the Christ, who came not to be ministered unto, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. If you want to have a church fuss, and want things to go wrong, just let the members quit doing something.
In Acts 11:27-30 we have an account of a young prophet who came to Antioch and announced that there was going to be a dearth throughout all the world, which would come to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar. Upon hearing this, everyone of those brethren at Antioch determined to send relief unto the poor saints in Judea. This they did, every man according to his ability.
I have reserved for the last the discussion of what I consider the supreme and most important work of the church of the Lord. To teach God's Word and to preach the gospel of His Son to dying humanity is the noblest work on this earth. You may feed and clothe humanity and provide for them good homes, but if you fail to induce them to obey the gospel, they will die and land in hell at last. The church is God's great missionary agency for proclaiming to a lost, ruined, and recreant race of mankind the hope of everlasting bliss.
Any church, therefore, that is not interested, is not active, that is not doing something for the spread of the gospel among the denizens of this earth is not a distant relative of the church Christ died to establish. The church will attract the attention of the world in proportion to its efforts to preach only the gospel and to save mankind . . .
There are preachers who boast that they have a thousand sermon outlines and that they never repeat. The chances are that nine hundred and seventy-five of them are not worth repeating. A good sermon should be preached over and over. A bad one ought not to be preached at all. Do not be tempted to use the pulpit for any theme except the gospel of Christ. Be neither afraid nor ashamed to declare the whole counsel of God. Men's souls are at state. Human lives are precious in God's sight. They are dying day by day. Many are hungering and thirsting for the Bread of Life.
I now ask, upon whom does the responsibility to preach the gospel rest? Certainly no political party is so expected. No human fraternity ever considers it its business, and no denomination on earth will preach a full gospel. The obligation rests upon the church of Christ. Such responsibility belongs to members of the body of Christ, and if they do not, they will lose their own souls. "Ye are the salt of the earth; but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted?" The implication is that it will be lost. Hence, in self-defense, I must try to save somebody else.
The commission was given unto the twelve, but before all of them passed away, Paul said to Timothy: "Be strong in grace that is in Christ Jesus, and the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also." This explains how the gospel is to be perpetuated, and it also names the two qualifications for a gospel preacher. He must be faithful to God's Word and then have ability to teach. There are many brethren who are just : s true to the Book as the needle ever was to the pole but they are unable to teach. When they get up, their thoughts sit down. Combine fidelity and ability and you have God's preacher.
(Note: The above paragraphs are not my own, though I agree whole-heartedly with the lessons taught. These are paragraphs from the preaching of brother N. B. Hardeman, back in November 1943, Nashville, Tennessee. Quoted from Hardeman's Tabernacle Sermons, Vol. V, sermon, The Mission and Work of The Church. The Tabernacle Sermons are splendid reading, and I love to go back and read them again. How badly we need preaching like that brother Hardeman has done in years past.)
Truth Magazine IX: 9, pp. 20-22