the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when
the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for the
fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith
unto them, Peace be unto you. And when he had so said, he shewed
unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad,
when they saw the Lord. Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be
unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And
when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them,
Receive ye the Holy Ghost:
Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are
remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are
And after eight days again his disciples
were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors
being shut, and stood in the midst and said, Peace be unto you.
John 20:19-23, 26
Not many people know the true reason why Jesus
started the church. Let me give a couple of things which are not
legitimate reasons, even though most people think they are.
1. The church was not started to be a place
You can worship God better alone than you can
with others. You can also pray better alone than you can with
others. When two people pray together, their prayers will too
often be designed to impress each other. Every Christian should
worship God in the beauty of His holiness. We should
adore Him, worship Him, magnify Him, and honor Him. The idea
that the church is a place to worship God came from Rome, not
from the New Testament. There is only one place in the New
Testament where the word worship is connected to a public
service, and that deals with worshipping the Devil. There is no
example in the entire New Testament of a Christian worship
God told the people in Amos 5:21-23, 1
hate, I despise your feast days, and! will not smell in your
solemn assemblies.... I will not accept them.... Take thou away
from me the noise of thy songs.... The church was not made
to be a place of worship.
2. Jesus did not start the church as a
place of evangelism. The evangelistic
church is not in the Bible. The soul-winning church is. I am not
against people getting saved at church, nor am I against an
occasional evangelistic sermon. But, that is not the main
purpose of the church, nor was it why the church was started.
The New Testament church was a soul-winning institution where
all of the members won people to Jesus.
And daily in the temple, and in every
house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.
Some people believe that the New Testament
church won the lost in the church and in house-to-house
soul winning. That is half true. They did go house-to-house soul
winning. The temple, however, was not the church, nor did they
have church in the temple. The temple was the location of the
big gala occasion when they had their feasts and when all of the
people would gather in Jerusalem. The temple was also the place
where they conducted their daily business. It was like our
business district. This was not talking about witnessing in
church, but about witnessing in public places as well as in
And Saul was consenting unto his death. And
at that time there was a great persecution against the church
which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad
throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the
apostles. Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every
where preaching the word. Acts 8:1, 4
They witnessed everywhere. There was no place
they did not go. The jail is part of everywhere. Downtown is
part of everywhere. The street corner is part of everywhere.
Rest homes are a part of everywhere. Neighborhoods are a part of
everywhere. The homes where the poor, the lame, the halt, and
the blind live are parts of everywhere. The New Testament church
was not an evangelistic church. It was a soul-winning church,
and they went everywhere doing so.
And he said unto them, Go ye into all the
world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
Jesus gave the Great Commission on several
occasions. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Acts all give different
phrasings of the Great Commission. That does not mean that Jesus
spoke it only one time, and that each of them gave it in their
own words. They each quoted Jesus. He did not just give it once.
One of those times was quoted in Mark. It is not talking about
standing behind a pulpit and preaching. It is not directed to a
congregation. It is directed to every creature.
An evangelistic church is where a preacher
gets up and preaches on salvation. I am not against that, but it
is not why the church was started. The evangelism was not to be
done at the church. Soul winning was to be done where the people
Paul said For I determined not to know any
thing among you, save Jesus Christ and him crucified. Some
preachers take that as a mandate to preach on nothing except
Jesus. That is not true. Paul wrote Timothy and said, Preach
the word, but he said something else. He said to exhort.
He said to rebuke. Sometimes the preacher is to
preach the Word. Sometimes he is to be lovingly stern and
rebuke. Sometimes he is to give advice, or exhort. God wants
more than just the plan of salvation preached in the church.
Jesus said in Matthew to teach all nations.
That word in Matthew is the Greek word "ethnos" which means
ethnics or races. Mark 16:15 says, to go into all
the world. The word "kosmos" is the word
arrangement. When Jesus started the church, he started a
soul-winning church. Soul winning was not the purpose of the
church, it was the fruit of the church and the result of the
In the first century the local churches were
soul-winning churches. They were scattered abroad everywhere
with everybody preaching or soul winning. Peter did not preach
the evangelistic sermon on Pentecost as many think. The Bible
says that every nation under Heaven was represented at Pentecost
and every man heard the Gospel. Many people were doing the soul
winning. It was not just Peter. I am not against having an
evangelistic service, but that was not why Jesus started the
church, nor was it the way the New Testament church operated.
In the first century, our churches were
soul-winning churches. The people came to church for the real
purpose of the church. Then they went out from the church
and won folks to Christ in the public places and neighborhoods
and brought them back to church. Something happened shortly
after the early church. The churches became evangelistic rather
than soul winning. What is the difference?
A soul-winning church is where the people go
out and win them and bring them back in to make a public
An evangelistic church
is where you invite sinners to come and the
preacher tries to get them saved through his preaching. There is
nothing wrong with that except the people go unfed.
For 1900 years the soul-winning church was
In our generation the soul-winning church
has been rediscovered. The First
Baptist Church of Hammond has had a big part in that. All across
America preachers are baptizing more converts than Spurgeon did.
I am not nearly the preacher Spurgeon was, but First Baptist
Church is a better church than Spurgeon had because we
discovered the soul-winning church instead of the evangelistic
Evangelists have been being forced to
change their ministries.
And he gave some, apostles; and some,
prophets; and some evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry,
for the edifying of the body of Christ:
Ephesians 4:11, 12
The word perfecting means maturing.
God gave apostles for the maturing of the saints. God gave
prophets for the maturing of the saints. God gave evangelists
for the maturing of the saints. God gave pastors and teachers
for the maturing of the saints. All these were given for the
perfecting of the saints for
the work of the ministry. Every
saint is commanded to do the work of the ministry. Every
Christian is commanded to be a soul-winner. It is the
evangelist's job to mature the Christians so they will better do
the work of the ministry.
For many years evangelists were men who
traveled across the country and preached revival meetings. These
were actually evangelistic crusades, and they basically preached
on salvation. I believe that God raised
them up, but I do not believe that God had this in mind for the
New Testament church. Evangelists were given for the perfecting
or maturing of the saints, so the saints could do the work of
the ministry. Nobody in the New Testament went around preaching
to great crowds of people in churches just to get people saved.
They taught, exhorted, rebuked, and perfected them so that the
saints could do the work of the ministry.
I am not against the evangelists who went into
churches and preached on Heaven, Hell, salvation, the great
white throne judgment, etc. Thank God for them, but they had to
do it because churches were not doing the job of soul winning.
God raised up these evangelists to go to churches and get people
In our day, the evangelist is a preacher who
does more of what the Bible says he is to do, the perfecting of
the saints. We have lived in the age of the rediscovery of the
Let us now look at the reasons for the
starting of the church.
1. The church was started for comfort.
Then the same day at evening, being the
first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the
disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and
stood in the midst, and said unto them, Peace be unto you.
These people went to church because they were
scared. That is one reason Jesus started the church. It was the
place they could receive comfort in the midst of persecution.
Jesus met in the upper room the night that he
was betrayed. (John 13 & 14)
From there He went to the garden
of Gethsemane where he was betrayed that night. It was on
Wednesday that our Lord was crucified, so the church meets on
Wednesday. Sunday was the day that our Lord rose from the dead,
so the church meets on Sunday.
It had to be a church that met in the upper
room because they had the Lord's Supper, which was given by the
local church. It was also in the upper room that they met when
He rose from the dead. (John 20:19 &
Consequently, they came to church for comfort. Our Saviour met
with the apostles and said: Let not your heart be troubled:
ye believe in God, believe also in me. He was comforting
The church is a place to dispel the fears of
the people. When somebody comes with an incurable disease, the
church is supposed to help him dispel his fear. When people have
a fear of financial reversal, the church is to help dispel their
fear. The reason they assembled in the upper room was for the
fear of the Jews. Coming together gave them more courage and
strength than being alone.
2. It is a place for encouragement.
Often people will not come to church because
they have problems or because they are discouraged. That is why
the church was started. That is why we are supposed to come.
When you want to be alone is usually when you do not need to be
alone. That is the time we most need to be in church.
Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves
together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another:
and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
That means we are not to forsake the
churching of ourselves together. It is especially true as we
see the second coming of Jesus Christ coming closer. Why?
Because there is a certain element of fear there. You come to
church to be comforted in the fact that we are all going up
together. When we come to church we get encouraged.
For if there come unto your assembly a man
with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a
poor man in vile raiment; And ye have respect to him that
weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a
good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here
under my footstool: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and
are become judges of evil thoughts?
There is one place in this world where a poor
child can go and be just as important as the children of the
Pastor, the deacons or the Sunday school teachers. The church is
a place of encouragement for those who are looked down upon or
despised in this world.
3. It is a place to give tithes to God.
Now concerning the collection for the
saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even
so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you
lay by him in the store, as God hath prospered him, that there
be no gatherings when! come. I
They tithed on the first day of the week,
which is when they went to church. Sundays we are to bring our
tithes and offerings to the church as well. The tithe or tenth
is the smallest portion given in the Bible. Consequently, we go
to church to give.
4. It is a place for maturing.
And he gave some, apostles; and some,
prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
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 fulness of
Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and
fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the
sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait
to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him
in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
The body of Christ is the local New Testament
church. He owns it. God has given us the church, so that every
time someone tries to deceive us with a false doctrine, we will
not fall prey to the error. God has given us the church in order
for us to become mature. He wants us to grow up. That is what it
is all about. We are to come to church to mature. We will never
outgrow the church. The church is there to help us to grow up.
The preacher is there to help us grow up. The evangelist is
there to help us to grow up. The quickest way to be deceived by
false doctrines is to become unfaithful to church.
5. It is a
place for inspiration to go soul winning.
And when they were assembled with the
Then the eleven disciples went away into
Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And
when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. And
Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All powers is given unto
me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all
nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the
Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things
whatsoever! have commanded you:
Matthew 28:12, 16-20a
The church is to inspire and instill in us the
importance of going soul winning. Most
people will never walk inside the church, but we can go to them.
Most people where we work will never walk inside our church, but
we can take the message where they are. As a pastor, I am to
inspire everybody to go soul winning. Four thousand people go
soul winning from First Baptist Church every week. I am not
satisfied with that. I want everybody to go soul winning every
week. It is not the preacher's job to preach the unsaved down
the aisle. It is the preacher's job to preach and inspire the
individual Christians to go soul winning. That is God's plan.
6. It is a place for fellowship, to take
the Lord's supper, to learn the Bible and to learn how to pray.
Then they that gladly received his word
were baptized: and the same day there were added to them about
three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the
apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in the breaking of bread,
and in prayers. Acts 2:41, 42
The word fellowship means communion.
It is not referring to the typical fellowship of the church. It
is referring to a communing in Christ with one another. It is a
place where we share a "God Bless You" and "1 am praying for
you" as we unite in the work of God. It is a place for the
breaking of bread in the Lord's Supper as we remember together
the price Jesus paid for us on Calvary.
These are the real reasons for the church.
When we get away from these, the church fails to do that which
we were called by the Saviour to do, and we look to church to be
something different than what God ordained it to be.