The Question of Why?

Purpose can be defined as “the reason for which something exists or is done, made, used, etc.” Usually when something is created, there is a purpose for it. If there is no purpose, then we consider it a piece of junk, or some might consider it a piece of art, just kidding. When God created man and woman, He told them to be fruitful and to multiply; He gave man in particular the responsibility of work. Believers have a purpose and the church has a purpose.

Scripture shows that believers are called to worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:23, 24). We are to worship God because of who He is and because of what He does. The emphasis of worship is glorifying God. We can talk about the various attributes of God. God is omnipotent, that is, He is all powerful. He is called the Lord Almighty. It is that powerful God who created the universe. We can look in both the Old and New Testaments and see the many miracles that God performed.

In the Old Testament, God brought plagues against Egypt when it refused to release God’s people from captivity. When the exiting Israelite were trapped, the omnipotent God came to their rescue by parting the Red Sea so that they crossed on dry land. When the Egyptians tried to do the same thing they were destroyed by the crushing waters. When it was time to begin the conquest of the Promised Land, the mighty God caused the walls of Jericho to collapse.

Jesus performed various miracles. He healed individuals of all kinds of sicknesses and diseases. Bartimaeus was healed of blindness. A woman with a constant flow was delivered from her uncleanness through her act of faith and the power of God. Numerous persons were healed of leprosy. In fact, the Bible records that all who came to Jesus were healed. Jesus fed five thousand people with five loaves and two fish by supernatural multiplication. He demonstrated control over the elements by walking on water and calming a storm.

There are so many things that we can say about God. He is omniscient (knowing all things) and omnipresent (everywhere present). He is Elohim, the God of greatness and glory. He is the El Shaddai, God Almighty. He is the El Elyon, the most high God. He is Jehovah, the God who was and is and the God who will be. The compound names of Jehovah show that He is a healer, a deliverer, a righteous God, a provider, our peace. He is holy, majestic and awesome. He is high and lifted up. He is our refuge and strength, a present help in the time of trouble. No wonder we have reasons to praise God!

Worship is about intimacy with God and is about the revelation of God. David spent time in the presence of God and said, “How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God” (Psalm 84:1, 2). Isaiah had a revelation of God in Isaiah chapter 6 and cried out “Woe is me, I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” People who don’t find that place of intimacy with God will always struggle with worship. People who don’t get the revelation of God will also struggle with worship.

Worship charges the atmosphere with the presence of God. When God is glorified from a pure and sincere heart, He turns up and moves in powerful ways. Worship creates the atmosphere for the Spirit to move in power and for the release of His gifts. Numerous people can testify how God healed them while worshipping, or after a powerful time of worship, God ministered through prophecy or gave messages of knowledge. God desires to be glorified. One speaker has said that worship is complete when God responds.

Worship alone can bring about spiritual victories. Sometimes the breakthrough is in our praise. There are times when we have already prayed and fasted and waited on God. During those times, we may not need to pray any more. We may just need to get into that place of thanksgiving, praise and worship. As we praise, God begins as it were to stir from His heavenly throne. He comes down in response to our praise as a mighty warrior ready to vindicate and give victory to His people (see Habakkuk 3:1 – 15).

Worship involves glorifying God in all areas of our lives. Too many Christians do not recognize the full spectrum of worship, just like we don’t see the spectral fullness of light until its rays are broken down by a prism. The real emphasis of worship is our obedience. That’s why true worshipers will prioritize the Word of God, for it is in conforming to that Word that we reach the highest levels of worship. We are to glorify God in our homes. This will affect how we treat our husband, our wife, our children, our parents, our brothers and sisters. We are to glorify God in school. This implies that we will do our very best in our schoolwork, our attitude and in our behavior. We are to glorify God in our work. We are to have a spirit of excellence, working hard and constantly improving. Worship is comprehensive, affecting every major area of our lives.

Another important purpose of the church is edification. Through building up each other, we produce harmony in the church (Romans 14:19). If the church is divided, it hinders the building up process. If you put a fresh water fish in sea water, it will die. The atmosphere of the church determines whether Christians will grow and maximize their potential. If the atmosphere is toxic and unhealthy, Christians will be negatively impacted. We must do everything within our power to eliminate division in the church.

We are to help others to do what is right and build them up in the Lord (Romans 15:2). We are our brother’s keeper. It is a responsibility that we must take seriously. It is ungodly to see our brothers going down a wrong path and not pray for them, talk to them and possibly involve their leaders. It is ungodly to gossip about them or to wish that they fail and fall. That spirit is of the devil. We are not guaranteed that persons will always respond positively to correction. In cases like that, we simply have to commit them to the grace of God and move on.

Prophecy and the other gifts of the Spirit are given and are needed to build up believers (1 Corinthians 14:3). The gifts of the Spirit can be subdivided into three areas. The gifts of power are healing, miracles and faith. The gifts of revelation are word of knowledge, word of wisdom and discerning of spirits. The gifts of utterance are tongues, interpretation of tongues and prophecy. These gifts are given for the common good, that is, so that the body of Christ can be ministered to and built up.

Authority and leadership are given for building up the church not tearing it down (2 Corinthians 10:8). Leaders are to equip the saints so that they can function in their ministry (Ephesians 4:12). The fivefold leadership of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher are not to do all the work of the ministry. They must empower and release the saints so that they can do what God has called them to do. The opposite of building up the saints is to tear them down. Leaders tear down believers when they are controlling, manipulative, critical and impatient. Leaders tear down believers when they treat them like commodities rather than as people.

Each part of the body must function for the whole to be built up (Ephesians 4:16). There are various gifts and ministries given to the body of Christ and all of them are necessary for the church to accomplish its mission. There is no room for comparison and boasting: no gift is better than the next and in any case, the gift originates with God, not with the person. Further, there is no room for selfishness. Believers don’t have the right to withhold their gift and ministry. This would mean that the body is lacking the ministry of some of its parts and that it would be unable to function properly. In light of the above, discipleship and training are needed. Discipleship helps persons to understand the nature of the church and their role and responsibility. Training ensures that the gifts are used as they should be.

Genesis 12:2, 3 speak about the Abrahamic blessing. God promised to bless Abram (later Abraham) and told him that he will be a blessing. Ultimately, this was fulfilled through the ministry of Jesus Christ who died for the salvation of the world. Just like Abraham, we are blessed to be a blessing. What God blesses us with is not only for our enjoyment but is also for the benefit of others. The book of Acts tells us that it is more blessed to give than to receive. Proverbs 11:25 says that “A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”

The true basis of ministry is love: love for God and love for people; love builds up while knowledge puffs up (1 Corinthians 8:1). 1 Corinthians 13 shows the indispensability of love and some of the characteristics of love: patience, kindness, humility, consideration for others, always protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres. The chapter concludes with the thought, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” Jesus was moved by compassion and it motivated Him to minister to the needs of others. The anointing must flow out of the spirit of love. Paul indicates that the person who does not minister out of love is nothing more than a resounding gong or clashing cymbal; that person is nothing and gains nothing. Love causes us to want to help people, to genuinely want to make a difference in their lives.

Believers need to know and operate in their gifts and they need to know their ministry purpose. Every believer has at least one gift that can be used for the glory of God. The simplest way to get to know and operate in the fullness of your gift is to spend time in God’s presence. Prophetic leadership and ministry can both identify and assist believers in knowing their gift. Ask yourself the question, “What are you passionate about and what are you good at?” The answer to that question can help you identify gifts and the ministry to which God has called you. We must operate with the premise that all saints are ministers. The fivefold ministry is to simply provide the leadership that equips the saints to do the work of the ministry.

Effective ministry only happens when self is crucified. There can be too much pride in the pulpit and in the pew. Ministry is never about self-glorification. John the Baptist’s mindset was that he must decrease and Jesus must increase. That should be a fundamental guiding philosophy for every believer. We must always walk humbly recognizing that it is not by might nor by power but by the Spirit of God that powerful ministry happens. We must depend on the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus explicitly told the disciples that in order to be His witnesses, they first had to wait for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. We don’t build the church, Jesus does. We are just the human instruments through which the power of God flows to accomplish the mission.

Building up believers means meeting the real needs of people. Ministry is not effective if it doesn’t meet people’s needs. Individuals have spiritual, emotional, physical, social, financial and other needs. Some saints are hungry for the presence of God and come to churches that are spiritually lifeless. Eventually, they move on because they are not being fed. There are many emotionally wounded people in our churches – people who have been raped, abused, rejected; people who are carrying around frustration and depression. Through the revelation of the Holy Spirit and the building of relationships, we must identify people’s needs and having identified those needs we are to do something about them.

There are several ways in which we can all build up others. Some of these ways include praying for and with others, encouraging, sharing what you have and what you know. Every believer can and must do these things. Further, all of us have to give an account for our ministry. The Parable of the Talents is very instructive. Two of the three servants were productive and did what their master required. They were considered good and faithful. Unfortunately, the third servant ignored and neglected his responsibility and was regarded as lazy and wicked. When we stand before God, He will not simply look at what we have done, but He will also look at the purity of our motives. Did we do whatever we have done for His glory and to truly help and empower others?

Finally, evangelism is an essential purpose of the church (Matthew 28:18 – 10)Jesus came to seek and to save those that are lost. He temporarily left His glory and the glory of heaven. He was driven by love and the mandate of the Father. He took on humanity; He proclaimed and demonstrated the reality of the kingdom. He set us a godly example. He was crucified, died, was buried and rose from the dead for our salvation and the salvation of countless others. Because of this, we need to make evangelism a priority. It is tragic that a cult is more active in going out to the community than the typical evangelical church. Regardless of the various forms of evangelism, nothing is more effective than ministering to people in a personal way. Jesus did it with crowds and He did it with individuals – Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman and Zacchaeus.

The number one reason why churches are not experiencing exponential growth is a lack of evangelism and discipleship. Any church that is consistently praying for, evangelizing and disciplining individuals will see growth. What we are seeing too much of is the transfer of the saints. We must be influenced by the spirit of Jesus. The Scripture says, “Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Matthew 9:35 – 38).

Evangelism is about seeing people delivered from the kingdom of darkness and brought into a personal relationship with God through accepting Jesus as personal Lord and Savior. May God move on our hearts that we are enabled to see people’s true condition – that we are able to see people in the spirit and not in the natural. Jesus saw people as they really were; He saw that people were harassed and helpless, under the dominion, tyranny and oppression of the devil. It is His desire to rescue people from the hand of the enemy. He was manifested to destroy the works of darkness. When people accept Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior it allows them to fulfill God’s purpose and to become like Christ – one of the essential goals of discipleship.

Evangelism allows for transformation to take place in individuals, in families, in communities, in nations. It is amazing to see the change that occurs in the life of persons who accept Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. Paul said, “Do you now know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:9 – 11). Here the apostle clearly indicates the kind of change that happens when people come into a saving relationship with God. John Newton was a slave trader, but ultimately became a Christian; we know him as the writer of Amazing Grace.

The chief purpose of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is to empower us for evangelism. Jesus said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). On the Day of Pentecost, we see the initial fulfillment of this: “With many other words he [Peter] warned them; and he pleaded with them, ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.’ Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day” (Acts 2:40, 41). The baptism of the Holy Spirit is not just for us to speak in tongues and to have a good time in church; it must propel us to share the gospel with others. The phenomenal growth of Pentecostal churches around the world is due to them relying on the power of the Holy Spirit to evangelize the lost.

Here are some steps that can be taken in realizing the purpose of evangelism. Evangelism starts with asking God for His heart and praying for the lost. John 3:16 tells us about the love of God that caused Him to give His Son Jesus to be the atoning sacrifice for man’s sin. In praying for the lost, we can identify a specific individual or family and consistently pray for them. Another step in evangelism is to learn a simple way to present the gospel. Every church should provide evangelism training, but if your church doesn’t, there are online resources that you can turn to. Further, set a goal for evangelism: at the very least, plan to win one person to Christ each year. If each believer won one person to the Lord this year, the church would come close to doubling.

Although this is not intended to replace evangelism, a starting point can be simply inviting people to church. Some people get saved at a church service. My salvation experience was a combination of a church service and a personal witness. Finally, we need to present the gospel. There are three dimensions of evangelism: presence (living the gospel), proclamation (sharing the gospel) and persuasion (leading people to Christ). We must aim to do all three. Evangelism eventually allows the church to be self-supporting and self-propagating (the church eventually grows to the point that it can start other churches both locally and internationally). Evangelism glorifies God and ensures the growth of God’s kingdom.