What is the Purpose of the Church?
What is the Purpose of the Church?
Preached by Pastor Phil Layton at Gold Country Baptist Church on January 20, 2008
I want to ask you guys this morning a question that is not intended to insult but to initiate some thinking: why did you come to church today? What was your purpose or motive or goal in coming here? Why are you here, other than the fact that it’s something you do? In other words is it just a routine or ritual or is there a specific reason why you attend church or why you are involved at church or not?
I am certainly glad you’re all here, and my goal is not at all to make you feel unwelcome, but I do want you to engage your minds. I want to challenge us to not be content with routines, not to be satisfied with being in a rut or a repetitious endless cycle, where we just do things because that’s the way they’ve always been done, or I do this because my parents raised me this way, or I come because that’s what I’m supposed to, that’s what good people do, etc.
What is your purpose at church? A broader question is for the church as a whole, what is the purpose of the church, what is the goal and reason for believers gathering together on the Lord’s Day? Why does this church exist? Do we have a purpose statement, do we have a vision? Is there a unifying principle and overarching objective of our activities here? Where are we to focus our energies when so many things are competing for our attention?
What is your purpose or goal or objective here? Why are we doing what we’re doing this morning? What is the purpose of the church? What is God’s primary purpose for having the church on earth? What is the church to do and be? Why do we do what we do?
It’s been said: ‘A high proportion of people who “go to church” have forgotten what it is all for. Week by week they attend services in a special building and go through their particular, time-honored routine, but give little thought to the purpose of what they are doing. The Bible talks about the “the bride of Christ” but the church today seems like a ragged Cinderella. It needs to reaffirm the nonnegotiable, essential elements God designed for it to be committed to.’
So what is the essential element or purpose God designs a church to be committed to?
A few weeks ago, I began a series of messages that each had a question as their title, very basic and fundamental questions:
- Saved from what? (what is salvation, what is the gospel)
- What is the church?
- Why should we love the church?
- What did the first church look like?
The answer to the first question, what are we saved from or who do we need to be saved from is God Himself. We are not saved from poor feelings about ourselves, or saved from a lack of fulfillment, or a lack of success – what we need to be saved from is God. We are saved from God by God through God for God. As we saw in Romans 5 and other passages, we need to be saved from God’s Wrath by God’s grace through God’s Son for God’s glory.
The answer to the second question, what is the church, is also different than the way many think. We saw that:
The church is not a building, it is a body of true believers.
It’s not a business, it’s the bride of Christ, chosen by the Father.
It’s not a corporation, it’s a congregation of Christ-followers.
It’s not a financial institution, it’s a family, it’s a flock.
It’s not led by CEOs, it’s led by shepherds.
It’s not built by corporate executives, it’s built by Christ alone.
As we saw in Matthew 16, the church is built on Christ (who He really is: Lord and Savior), built from Christ, and built by Christ.
For the question, why should we love the church, I said that if we truly love Christ, shouldn’t we want to be committed to what He is committed to? If His major commitment until He comes again is to be building His church, we should want to be used by Him in His work that will never fail. If we deeply love Christ, we cannot be indifferent to His body, which is inseparably joined to Him. If we say we love Christ, how can we not love what He loves? Ephesians 5 says it was the church in particular that Christ loved and gave Himself up for her, He even nourishes and cherishes the church, His highest affection and attention is poured into the church. Some of you might be skeptical or cynical or critical about the church because of past experiences or because of how someone in some church treated you, but we know that is not the attitude of Christ. It was while we were enemies and yet sinners that He died for us His church. He knows the church is not perfect, and that doesn’t cause Him to abandon the church, it causes Him to commit Himself to help the church be all it is intended to be.
The church is not perfect and neither are you, but thankfully Christ doesn’t share the attitude many of us have toward the church. He loves the church, not because it’s beautiful, but to make it beautiful
Last week, we looked at the question: what did the first church look like? From Acts 2 we saw the early church was marked by:
- Reliance on God’s Spirit
- Response to God’s Word
- Real Fellowship with God’s People
- Regular Worship by God’s Means
- Radical Love for God’s Church
I’m spending more time in intro and review for a purpose, because today I want to try to bring this series together as we discuss the purpose of it all: What is the Purpose of the Church?
What is to be our plumbline, our priority #1, our passion, our pursuit, our pre-eminent focus, our primary aim, our purpose?
Ray Ortlund has written:
‘The problem most churches face is not that they do not do anything; they do plenty. The problem is that they are not doing the right things.
A pilot announced to his passengers over his intercom system, “Ladies and gentlemen, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that we have a tail wind, and we are making excellent time. The bad news is that our compass is broken, and we have no idea where we are going.” A similar situation is true of many churches.’
Billy Sunday said, “There wouldn’t be so many non-church goers if there were not so many non-going churches.”
In other words, many churches are either not sure what they’re trying to do or where they’re going or aren’t going anywhere, they’re stuck or stalled. Are we in any ways stalled, to use the analogy of a car, do we need our battery to be recharged (or replaced)? Are we spinning our wheels, is our engine sputtering? Have we settled into a rut? Are we in some areas stuck in neutral? Are we starting to go in reverse? Are we satisfied here? What is driving us?
I listened to a message this week that discussed how churches are driven by a lot of things other than their biblical purpose:
- Past (tradition, no change, we’ve always done it this way)
- Personality (pastor or influential persons that dominate)
- Pockets (money, payments, finances, heated budget mtgs)
- Politics (or social agendas, are these the church’s focus?)
- Pews (whatever they can do to fill the seats)
- Pagans (what do unbelievers want church to be like? Let’s survey them, etc.)
- Programs (fad-driven church, latest and greatest)
According to one survey, when asked, “Why does the church exist?” 89% of church-goers said, “The church’s purpose is to take care of my family’s and my needs.” Only 11% said, “The purpose of the church is to win the world for Jesus Christ.” [According to another source, the surveyed pastors answered the exact opposite, flip-flopped] … if the pastor and congregation disagree on why the church exists, conflict on everything else is inevitable.
We discussed this question as elders last year and were in agreement that neither of those answers are truly adequate for what the ultimate purpose of the church is. That’s not to say the church shouldn’t be involved in meeting physical needs or especially man’s greatest need, which is salvation, but is there another purpose, an ultimate and overarching purpose that should drive us?
To a growing number of emergent voices, they think the church’s purpose should move away from a man of God preaching the Word of God as inerrant, authoritative, or the gospel of grace alone through faith alone in Christ, like traditional churches do. In many cases they think the church should be more of a coffee-shop feel where we sit around and light candles and can question everything, change everything, don’t emphasize absolute truth, but have a postmodern-friendly conversation about our spiritual pilgrimages and opinions and what we feel about Jesus and various scriptures.
I’ve even heard someone describe church’s purpose is to be a place “where everybody knows your name” (apparently a spiritual version of the TV show Cheers)?!
To many, the emergent and missional emphasis on the church’s purpose in the world sounds like the old liberalism with new labels, even to those friendly to the more conservative side of the emerging spectrum like Mark Driscoll who criticizes more left-wing guys like Brian MacLaren. The liberals focus ‘on societal transformation rather than personal conversion. Their “social gospel” sees the saving of society from social evil as the great purpose of the church. The mission of the church is not to preach the gospel to sinners in need of God’s great salvation [the liberals say], but rather, to liberate mankind from poverty, racism, disease, war and all kinds of injustice.’
One writer said: ‘the essence of Christianity consists in our following the example of Christ in lives of social service, or that the chief purpose of the Church is to build a new social order in this world.’
Others would describe a paramount goal of the church as “the completion of the kingdom of God” and (or by) “service to society.” 
But does the Bible say that’s the church’s main purpose?
Pope John Paul II stated in his first encyclical that the central purpose of the church was to help the believer to “realize and fulfill his full human destiny in Christ.” In the teaching of Vatican II holiness is designated as the supreme purpose of the church.
Certainly a Christian would not disagree that God wants us to be holy. And within the book of Ephesians you could find verses that speak of holiness:
Ephesians 5:3 But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints;
4 and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.
5 For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,
26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,
27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.
Without holiness, no one will see the Lord. But does this text say that holiness is the chief purpose of the church? What do others say based on other verses and passages?
I did a search on the phrase “purpose of the church” and looked up and read over 250 examples of this phrase, as well as online. I found that there is no shortage of different answers to the question what is the purpose of the church? And for many of the answers given, you can find verses in Ephesians that mention the activity.
On one website, I read that the purpose of the church is to reveal God’s love to kids. There wasn’t a verse given, but certainly Eph. 5:2 says we are to walk in love as God’s children. But is love to kids described in scripture as the purpose of the church?
One writer says: “we are reminded that the primary purpose of the church is to serve others, meaning strangers and foreigners.”
Here is referenced the “primary purpose” – but is being a good Samaritan to strangers and foreigners the church’s highest goal?
A church website says the church’s purpose is “to serve people like Jesus served people.” But someone has asked how that makes us different than a Boy Scout troop in serving people – is there something distinct about the institution of the church that only the church can fulfil? Of course we should serve people, but does the Bible refer to that as the primary purpose of the Church? That website didn’t give a proof text, but Eph 4:12 certainly says saints are to serve.
Other writers give totally different answers: ‘A major purpose of the Church is to provoke the Jews to jealousy in order to bring them to saving faith (Romans 11:11–14).’
A different writer says ‘one of the purposes of the church [is] o be there in crises. But it’s also a purpose of the church to help people to mature in faith. And that means, most of the time, letting people settle their conflicts themselves.
Ephesians 4 also talks about maturing in the faith and how to deal with conflicts in 4:25-32. But is that the overarching purpose? Are there multiple different purposes? Or is there a purpose (singular)?
Ephesians 4 does discuss the function of church leaders and gifts:
11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers,
12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;
13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.
This passage seems to give quite a different answer than church marketing experts who say we need to focus on the unchurched and gear our services to unbelievers, dumbing down the message, don’t talk much about sin, but focus mainly on meeting felt needs. Verse 12 says the real need is for pastors and teachers to be primarily equipping saints, believers to serve or minister and to build up the body to likemindedness, maturity, and deep knowledge of Jesus.
To cater to the desires and whims of the world in a church worship service to get a bigger crowd at any cost is not a pattern I see in the NT. The church trains believers so they can go out to the world.
Michael Horton appropriately comments that we should be ‘only secondarily concerned about our own needs, whether real or felt. This is a priority we must get right and a priority which, I fear, the church growth movement has gotten wrong in its insistence that the primary purpose of the church is to meet the “felt needs” of the unchurched, rather than to teach and lead the unchurched to recognize their greatest priority to be worshipping the one true God and believing His Word.’
Certainly one could argue that worship of God and believing His Word is our primary purpose. Ephesians 5:19-21 show what spirit-filled worship and living looks like, and we often see Paul in this book worshipping and praying and praising God and emphasizing the importance of God’s Word in Ephesians 6:17.
But then I read other very diverse writers who say it diverse ways:
Ed Murphy, a spiritual warfare writer, says: ‘The mystery of the Gentiles’ being in the church is only part of a larger mystery, however, that embraces one dimension of the purpose of the church. The purpose is that all of creation, might see God’s great plan, including the evil principalities and powers (3:10).’
Alexander MacLaren, great Scottish Baptist “Puritan” style expository preacher, writes: ‘The purpose of the Church, and the purpose of the ministry, and the meaning of our assembling are, that spiritual gifts may be imparted, not by me alone, but by you, too, and by me in my place and measure, and if that purpose be not accomplished, all other purposes, that are accomplished, are of no account, and worse than nothing.’
Charles Ryrie says “But basically the purpose of the church is to produce mature, stable, holy Christians.” (cf. Eph. 4:14-15)
Jack Hayford: ‘Racism … denies the purpose of the church: to bring together, in Christ, those who have been divided from one another. Racism has caused many Christians in American to use the Bible to defend segregation, and abandon justice.’
Ephesians 2:11-22 does speak of Jew and Gentile being brought together in the church – but is overcoming racism and division the chief aim of the church, or is it one outworking or result?
J. Vernon McGee says it this way: ‘What is the purpose of the church in the world? … to complete itself that it might grow up.’
Is maturity the result, or the reason we exist? Is it the overarching objective, or an outcome that occurs while we pursue our purpose?
Lorraine Boettner: ‘To save sinners and convert them to practical godliness is the chief purpose of the Church in this world.’
W. A. Criswell would argue that winning unbelievers to Christ ‘is the primary purpose of the church. He is deeply critical of northern churches which have lost their sense of evangelism, particularly at Sunday evening services:
If I were up [there] I’d turn on every light in the church and every light in the educational building, and I’d stand up there and preach until they could hear me for miles and even if no one came but the paid janitor we’d have a service on Sunday night—and at the close I’d give an appeal. Maybe the only one who’d respond would be me but I’d go down that aisle by myself and give myself to God all over again.’
The Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-19 is often appealed to by many Christians as THE only reason we’re here on this planet.
But is the end of Matthew 28 our only overarching purpose for the church being on earth still? And if so, are we to only emphasize the personal evangelism aspect of the Great Commission?
Gene Getz would use the same scripture to argue that the church’s ultimate purpose is discipleship (“make disciples of all nations”)
Others would point out that Jesus goes on to say that we must be teaching them to observe everything He commanded, and some would say teaching is the church’s all-encompassing purpose.
Others use this text to argue that global nations is the purpose.
Or in more general terms: ‘the purpose of the church is to convict men of sin and to effect the forgiveness of sin through the preaching of the gospel.’
Why am I taking the time to discuss this question? Is it a purely academic matter? Is there an impact to what you believe is the church’s primary goal and purpose? Absolutely. If you think political and social issues are to be on the forefront of Christian ministry, that will affect what you do. If a pastor believes his purpose is to get as many unbelievers into a building as possible and keep them comfortable and coming back, that will manifest itself in his ministry.
Even the noble purpose of evangelism is sometimes stated in ways that concern me. Ex: ‘the purpose of the church is to win persons to Christ and not to tell them about how Christians live.’
Can we even identify one purpose, or is it accurate to speak of multiple purposes, combining many together?
‘the mission or purposes of the church may be considered to be evangelism (Rom. 10:14–15), discipleship (Matt. 28:19–20), and social concern (James 1:27).’
Still others point out that equipping or edification is emphasized over evangelism:
‘In Ephesians 4:12, God says the purpose of the church is for the equipping of the saints, and idea behind equipping is to prepare, strengthen, and make something able to be used. We come together as Christians to strengthen one another, to make us strong and able to live for Jesus and serve Him outside the gatherings of the church.’
Speaking in broader terms, some combine it this way: ‘Two overriding purposes of the church can be delineated: gathered, ministering to the body, and scattered, ministering to the world.
How about this one: ‘the salient purpose of the church—to know Christ and make him known, in all his love and holiness’
Bannerman says, “’The chief end of the Church is to be in this world what Christ himself was, to do in it what he did, to carry on to final success the great work for which he came from heaven.’
I think we’re getting closer now. What is the great work of Christ?
Most everything that I’ve been saying can be supported by Bible verses in the book of Ephesians and other places, and there are many different things that Christians are called to do in the N.T. But I would propose to you that talking about what we should be doing is not the same thing as the reason why we should do it, the move or ultimate purpose that should drive all of these activities. In other words, what we are called to do is to be the result of something more fundamental, which is who we are and why we exist, according to God and His Word.
In understanding our ultimate purpose, I think we have to look at God’s ultimate purpose in calling out a people for Himself and in everything He does, according to Scripture.
Is there a single unifying ultimate purpose of God in the church?
I believe it is the same chief aim of man that historic Christianity has affirmed, that is also the chief aim and purpose of the church: THE GLORY OF GOD.
Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,
4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love
5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,
6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.
7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace
8 which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight
9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him
10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him
11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,
12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.
13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,
14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.
This eternal plan was not primarily about us and getting us to heaven. It’s not ultimately about what we do, it is about something God did in eternity past, it’s about the grace of God working in the present, it’s about a sovereign God who secures an eternal future for His elect. God’s glory is the purpose, God’s glory is to be praised, not just perceived; God’s glory is to be pre-eminent in everything.
Do we want to see people saved? Yes, so that God’s glory will be praised and exalted and magnified!
Should we pray? Of course, but notice even how Paul prays:
Ephesians 1:17-18 (NASB95)
17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him.
18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,
I believe the best biblical understanding is that all of those biblical activities (that people point to as the so-called purposes of the church) are described in scripture as being ultimately and primarily FOR THE GLORY OF GOD.
Isn’t this the end of the Lord’s Prayer? “thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory” – this is our chief end and aim in all
Listen to the ultimate purpose or motive of biblical prayer:
Jer. 14:7, 21 “Although our iniquities testify against us, O Lord, act for thy name’s sake … Do not despise us, for thy own name’s sake; Do not disgrace the throne of thy glory”
“Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of Thy name; and deliver us, and forgive our sins for thy names’ sake” (Psalm 70:9)
Prayer should be for the purpose and sake of God’s name and glory, not because I deserve it, but because His name and glory deserves and demands it; that should be our prayer motive as well!
Are we to have a good walk and witness? Yes, for this purpose:
Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father” (Matt. 5:16)
Are we to serve one another, be kind to one another, accept each other and be in unity with one another? Yes, but why?
Romans 15:2 Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification.
Romans 15:5 Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus,
6 so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
7 Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.
I would agree with John Piper that God’s glory is ‘why Christ bought and builds the church. Not just isolated, individual worship, but united voices, whether speaking or singing, that glorify God. Displaying the glory of God is the aim of the church.’
Why are we chosen to be holy and to be set apart and to pursue maturity. Those things are not the main purpose but are an outworking of something much bigger than us:
1 Peter 2:9-12 (NASB95)
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
10 for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
11 Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.
12 Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.
I again think Piper is on target when he says God ‘chose a people for himself in order that they might be for him a people and a name and a praise and a glory (Jeremiah 13:11). One text that we didn’t refer to this morning is Isaiah 43:21. Here God refers to his chosen people as
the people whom I formed for myself
that they might declare my praise.
In other words God formed a people for himself [for God’s glory and God’s praise] that they might make a name for him—that they might spread his reputation and increase his fame and promote his renown.
God’s Purpose for the Church: Now we come … to see how this relates to the church, the New Testament people of God.
… Why has God chosen us and made us a possession for himself? The answer is the same … to make a name for himself. The way Peter says it is that you were chosen to declare God’s excellencies, his wonders, specifically his saving work in bringing you from darkness into light. [Those are ways God’s glory shines forth and spreads]
God has given us the joy of spiritual sight so that we might spread the reputation of our eye doctor. Or you could say that we were caught in a deep mine shaft and it was caving in on us, and Jesus came down into the collapsing shaft of our sin and guilt and fear, and he put us on his back, and at the cost of his own life got us out. Why? So that we would spread the reputation of his courage and strength and kindness.
That is the point of verse 9: “You are a chosen race … that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” God has chosen us and brought us from darkness to light so that we would spread his reputation and be for him a name and a praise and a glory.’
I want to read you the new purpose statement of Gold Country Baptist Church, drafted with one mind and unanimous conviction by the elders of this church – a statement which we not only will be putting at the top of our new constitution with everything else subservient to it, but we want this to truly be in and above everything:
This church exists by the grace of God, for the glory of God, which shall be the ultimate purpose in all its activities
The fact that we only exist by God’s grace is so clearly expressed in Ephesians 2:
- We were all hopelessly and helplessly lost without God (v. 12)
- we were all spiritually dead in our sins (v. 1)
- deceived by the world and Satan and disobedient in our willful rebellion (v. 2)
- depraved by nature, desiring fleshly sins and acting on them, and deserving God’s wrath (v. 3)
But God’s amazing grace and mercy rescues His elect, resurrecting, raising from the dead, regenerating, replacing sinful unbelief with the gift of God, a gift that includes faith and is not from ourselves.
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,
5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
Friend, have you embraced this saving grace in your life, apart from works, apart from yourselves, apart from anything you can do? Do you have spiritual life that desires spiritual things,
If not, I invite you, I implore you to come to Christ alone today, trust in His grace alone, not anything you have done or can do. Plead for His mercy, surrender your life to Him, commit to follow Him as your Sovereign Lord, your Savior, your Substitute, your Sacrifice, your Supreme love with all your heart, soul, and mind.
God’s grace and glory culminate to a crescendo in Ephesians 3:
7 … I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power. 8 To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; 10 so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. 13 Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory. 14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. 20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, 21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.
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Jack W. Hayford, Greg Howse and Michael Posey, Race and Reconciliation : Healing the Wounds, Winning the Harvest, Spirit-Filled Life Kingdom Dynamics Study Guides (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1996).
J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible Commentary, Based on the Thru the Bible Radio Program., electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1981), 5:254.
Loraine Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine Of Predestination (Joseph Kreifels), 247.
Review and Expositor, Review and Expositor Volume 81 (Review and Expositor, 1984; 2004), vnp.81.1.110.
Editor’s Introduction to Luther's Works, Vol. 40 : Church and Ministry II, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald and Helmut T. Lehmann, Luther's Works (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999, c1958), 40.
Kenneth L. Chafin and Lloyd J. Ogilvie, vol. 30, The Preacher's Commentary Series, Volume 30 : 1, 2 Corinthians, Formerly The Communicator's Commentary, The Preacher's Commentary series (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1985), 134.
Emmaus Bible College, Emmaus Journal Volume 13 (Emmaus Bible College, 2004; 2005), vnp.13.2.245.
David Guzik, The Enduring Word Commentary Series (Josh-Psa) (Joseph Kreifels), Ne 3:3-5.
Paul P. Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology (Chicago, Ill.: Moody Press, 1997, c1989), 365.
The Evangelical Theological Society, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society Volume 44 (The Evangelical Theological Society, 2001; 2002), 44:142.
Morton H. Smith, Systematic Theology, Volume One : Prolegomena, Theology, Anthropology, Christology, Index Created by Christian Classics Foundation.; Published in Electronic Form by Christian Classics Foundation, 1996., electronic ed. (Greenville SC: Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary Press, 1996, c1994), 545.
 John Piper, “To Him Be Glory Forevermore” (Sermon Dec. 17, 2006) www.desiringgod.org
 John Piper, “Good Deeds and the Glory of God” (Sermon February 15, 1987) www.desiringgod.org