Summary: Let us remember that as the church, God has put us in charge of something extremely important. God has put us in charge of witnessing for Christ in all places and at all times.
One of the realities about the church of today is that there are a large number of believers that are very confused. I am not speaking about the false doctrines and sects; I am speaking about the confusion that there is reference the purpose of the church. I say this because when we ask a believer: why does the church exist? Without a doubt we will receive a number of different answers.
Many will say that the church exists to supply their spiritual needs; many will say that the church exists so that they can learn more from the Word of God; many will say that the church exists to console their sufferings or pain; many will say that the church exists so that they can gather to praise and worship God. We will receive these types of answers due to the erroneous concept that many believers have of the church, as the answers that I have briefly presented to you are not the primary reason for the church; they are in fact reasons as to why we need to congregate, but definitively not the main purpose of the church. But, if none of these reasons are the primary purpose of the church, then what is? This is the topic that we will explore today.
Today we shall ask: why does the church exist? Let us now turn to the Word of God.
Acts 1:6-8 - So when they met together, they asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" 7He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8But 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."
These verses are part of the description of our Lord’s ascension unto heaven. We are speaking about an event that was witnessed by not just one or two; it was witnessed by over five hundred people. This is something that we find clearly stated in 1 Corinthians 15:6 when we read: “After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.” We are speaking about a monumental time. We are speaking about a moment where the Lord left no doubt in any of His follower’s mind regarding His majesty, power and dominion. However, regardless of such a spectacular moment, some of them continued doubting.
Look closely at this detail here so that will understand what I am saying. The first thing that we see in the verses that we are exploring today is that some of them doubted; they asked: “…Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" Now we should ask ourselves, why did they ask this? I would say that the main reason they asked this was because they continued to concentrate on the earthly instead of in the heavenly. This is the reason why Jesus answered them by stating: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.” In other words, with this answer Jesus helped them regain focus of their vision; with this here guided them to what was important. What is genuinely important? For a believer the most important thing must be the celestial and not the earthly. It is as the Word tells us in Colossians 3:1-2 when we read: “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Tell the person sitting next to you: fix your sight on God.
This large group of believers could not completely appreciate what they were witnessing due to the material or physical needs that the people of that time were traversing. I say this because due to their disobedience and disloyalty, God had allowed them to be conquered in more than one occasion. As all of us know, the people of God were conquered and subjugated by Assyria, Babylonia, Persia, Greece, and Rome during the course of seven centuries. Therefore, we can safely assume that their suffering was great, as they now found themselves subjugated by the Roman Empire. Although the Roman Empire allowed them to continue the religious practices, the people of God had lost the independence and sovereignty that God had given them.
This is the reason why they could not initially appreciate what they were witnessing, the suffering and pain that they felt through the years was blinding them so that they could only concentrate on the immediate, that is to say, the sovereignty and freedom that they longed.