The Greek word (ekklesia) we interpret as “church” means “the called out ones”. Those who are not redeemed are not part of the church.
Isaiah 43:1 But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.
2 Cor 4:1 – 5 Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.
1 Cor 1:1 – 2 Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours
The mission of the church is more accurately found in Ephesians 4:12 & 13 – “the church exists For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Titus chapter 2 seems to sum up the mission of the church very nicely.
There is no place in scripture where saints are told to bring lost souls to the gathering nor is this portrayed in any scriptural narratives. The only place I know where scripture comments on lost people being in church is 1 Corinthians chapter 14. Paul is wrapping up his comments on the lust for gifts exhibited by the church in Corinth. “In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord. Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe. If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad? But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all: And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.” It’s clear in this passage that the priority is on the clear proclamation of God’s Word – not on being mindful of making lost folks feel comfortable.
When church leaders focus on lost people, they disobey scripture (Colossians 3:1 – 3, 2 Corinthians 4:18, etc.) and they will be distracted from the right focus on God. Seeking to be appealing to men, elders must turn from seeking to please the Lord – this is disobedience as well. And no man can do both (Galatians 1:10). Furthermore, such a focus on man inevitably leads to the practice of teaching men they can choose Christ – as the natural man wants to be in control of his life. The lost man is dead in his sin (Ephesians 2:1 – 5) and cannot seek God lest he be drawn to Him by Him (Romans 3:10 – 11, John 6:43 – 44, John 1:12 – 13) nor can he comprehend the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:12 – 14, Ephesians 4:17 – 19). It is demeaning to God to pretend man can have a hand in saving himself, giving himself spiritual birth (1 Peter 1:2 – 5, John 15:16). Those who teach and preach are held to a higher standard by God (James 3:1) because they represent God to people. They, therefore, ought to be very careful to only speak for God what He has declared in His Word.
These men pleasers tend to teach people that evangelism consists of inviting lost neighbors to church, so they can hear the preacher. The Bible knows of no such evangelism, telling us to go and preach Christ to the world (Matthew 28:19, Mark 16:14 – 15, Col 1:23). It’s the work of the church to disciple babes in Christ, to bring them to a full understanding of our glorious Lord (1 Corinthians 4:17, 1 Timothy 1:1 – 4, 1 Timothy 4:6 – 11, Titus chapter 2, 2 Peter 3:17 – 18, Ephesians 4:11 – 16).
Our audience – as regards any Christian ministry – is God, not man. His Word – alone – tells us how He wants to be represented to His creature. Our job is not be creative in finding ways to make heathens like the church – the cross is an offense to them (1 Corinthians 1:26 – 29, 1 Peter 2:7 – 8, Galatians 5:11). Our job is to proclaim Christ crucified, trusting God to call to new life those He predestined to be His children (Ephesians 1:3 – 6, Romans 8:32 – 34, John 1:13, Romans 9:6 – 11, Romans 11:5 – 6, 2 Peter 1:2 – 11), making disciples of those are redeemed by Christ. Anything that glorifies man – his status, position, abilities – is sin (Isaiah 48:9 – 11). The aim of each child of God is glorify Him – this is the foundation of everything we do. We cannot love one another properly without God’s glory being the basis. We cannot love lost folks properly if our reason for doing so is anything other than bringing God glory. Any other reason will lead us astray, into doing things for pragmatic reasons, mindful of results and numbers instead of God and His glory.
“Soli Deo Gloria” – Glory To God Alone
“Solus Christus” – Christ Alone
“Sola Scriptura” – Scripture Alone
“Sola Fide” – Faith Alone
“Sola Gratia” – Grace Alone
May we serve the lord with joy and seek to be forgotten, that those we speak to will remember the Christ of Whom we spoke.
Stuart L. Brogden