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The Mission of A New Testament Church
Read Before Ministers' Meeting at Owensboro
By Prof. J. A. Burns, 1900
      The mission of a New Testament church is to manifest God's glory by willing, intelligent obedience to his commandments. There is a sense in which every creature, both good and bad, manifests his glory, but a New Testament church must do this by willing, intelligent obedience. Joseph's brethren played their parts in manifesting God's glory in Egypt, but they "meant it for evil." The Jews played their part in the fulfillment of God's purposes and the manifestation of his glory on Calvary, but they worked with "wicked hands." The design was that of an enemy, and not of a friend.

      Jesus called his disciples "friends," because they knew the mission upon which he sent them (John 15:15). It was the day of his power and his people were willing (Psalm 110:3). They had not chosen him, but he had chosen them and ordained them, that they should go and bring forth fruit (John 15:16), and their bringing fruit was to God's glory (John 15:8). God had called them out of darkness into his marvelous light that they should show forth his praises (2 Pet. 2:9); and they were instructed to let their light shine in such a manner that men seeing their good works would give the glory to God and not to them. God shined in their hearts to give the light of the knowledge of his glory in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6); and this was to be made known by them into the principalities and powers in heavenly places (Ephesians 3:10). They were not to get themselves mixed up with their Master, as did Moses at the rock. Each was instructed to abide in his calling (1 Corinthians, 12th chapter). Paul may plant, and Apollos may water, but neither Paul nor Appollos can give the increase. That is God’s work (1 Corinthians 3:6).

      Now, if the churches would fulfill this mission they must contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3). They must not tolerate anything short of the pure Word of God, even though an angel from heaven be the preacher (Galatians 1:8, 9). The faith of God's elect (Titus 1:1) is very obnoxious to the world (John 15:19), but the churches must hold this faith in a pure conscience, even though the world refuse to help build their church houses, pay their preachers, fill their pews, sing their hymns, mingle at their "socials," and commune at their "box suppers." Shall the churches of God shun to his whole counsel in order to win the friendship of the world? No; let us be true to our mission, though all men despise us for his name's sake.

      But, again, in order to glorify God, the churches must keep the ordinances as they were delivered (1 Corinthians 11:2). They must not change them for something else which will do as well. They must not contract them nor expand them. They must not tolerate the charge of inconvenience or indecency. Jesus would never require unnecessary service, neither would he authorize and submit to an indecent ordinance. And when we change his ordinances to please men, we come short of the glory of God.

      Again, in order to glorify God, the churches must be separate from the world (2 Corinthians 6:17). They must remember that they are called with an holy calling (2 Timothy 1:9). They must remember that they were chosen unto holiness (Ephesians 1:4). They must remember that they were created in Christ Jesus unto good works (Ephesians 2:10). They must live out the principles of Godliness, or they have no right to claim to be his churches.

      Again, in order to manifest God's glory, the churches must preach repentance and remission of sins among all nations (Luke 24:47), The church which does not do this knows not God (1 John 2:4), and has not the Spirit of Sonship by which we cry, "Abba, Father" (Romans 8:14). The word of reconciliation is committed to the churches (2 Corinthians 5:19), and if they refuse to teach all nations they become synagogues of Satan. They must cross the sea and climb the mountain. They must grapple with privation and pestilence. They must, in bringing the "other sheep" (John 10:16) "endure all things for the elect's sake" (2 Timothy 2:10). They must, with lengthened cords and strengthened stakes (Isaiah 54:2), say to the North, "Give up," and to the South, "Keep not back;" they must bring his sons from far, and his daughters from the ends of the earth, even every one which God has created for his glory (Isaiah 43:6, 7), They must not stop to cavil over results. They must leave results to God. They do not know how many precious souls the Lord will save through their preaching; but they do know that he will not save any through their preaching if they do not go and preach. It is not their business to question their Master. It is their business to carry the Word of Life to earth's remotest bound. It is the Lord's business to add to the churches such as shall be saved. And so shall God be glorified in the churches by Jesus in all ages, world without end (Ephesians 3:21). And when the churches have done all their work to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31), then shall God glorify the church, and present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing. (Ephesians 5:27).


[From The Baptist Argus, July 5, 1900, p. 4; via Baylor U. digital edition. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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