And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” -Luke 19:9,10
The work of the Church of the Lord Jesus is the same as that of her Lord: to seek and to save that which was lost. The church does this differently than the Lord did: He sought and saved the lost by bringing the full truth of God’s grace to light, but most of all, by performing that gracious truth through His death. He died as the substitute for his people, bearing their sins in the presence of God and receiving the full weight Divine wrath due unto those sins. Throughout the Old Covenant, countless lambs were sacrificed as a substitute for shepherds; but in the New Covenant, a Shepherd was sacrificed as a substitute for the sheep!
We, as the church of the Lord Jesus “seek and save that which was lost,” by one method – the retelling of the truth that Jesus brought to light by His preaching and sacrifice. That is the single job Christ gave to His people via the apostles: Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation (Mark 16.15).
But instead of this, we see many churches engaged in efforts to “impact the culture.” There have even been television shows in which “Christ” says, “Come with me and we will change the world.” Some believe that the gospel is merely the means to find the Lord’s sheep, but once they are found, their care and nurturing is carried out by other means. Instead of sermons on the nature and character of God and the Person and work of the Lord Jesus, church members are fed instruction on proper financial management, denouncements of this or that particular sin, and religious entertainment with elaborate musical productions complete with special effects. Some may go away from such services full of enthusiasm, but it is not the “joy of the Lord,” which is the strength of His people that they are experiencing; it is the excitement of a promised “better life” brought about by obedience to “Christian principles” of finance, marital conduct, child rearing, and such. Indeed, they have been inspired, but not by the “glorious gospel of the blessed God,” but by the remarkable talent of those who perform for them.
Our Lord and His apostles were counted to be “uneducated and ignorant men.” Neither Christ nor His ministers ever sought fame or influence beyond that which the preaching of the gospel would gain them. Recognizing that Christ’s kingdom was not of this world, they did not concern themselves with changing the world but sought only to find God’s lost sheep and save them out of this world. And they did this by gospel preaching.
And in our day, the church is to do the same: seek the Lord’s sheep and provide for their spiritual care once they are found. And this work is accomplished by the singular work of preaching the gospel. The gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1.16). Seeing that salvation encompasses everything from the New Birth (regeneration) to being glorified to be like Jesus Christ, then it is inescapable to conclude that gospel preaching is sufficient for the whole of salvation: finding, feeding, growing, and preserving the sheep of God.
I fear that if the Lord were to appear today, He would say to the church, “I gave you one job…” And many preachers and religious performers will be forced to admit that they did everything but that job.
When Joseph and Mary found Jesus in the Temple when he was 12, he said to them, “Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” Let us follow His example!