The Three Great Ends of the Church #1

Glorification of God, Edification of the Saints, and Evangelization of the World!

1 Chronicles 16:23-29; John 17:1-5




This morning we begin a three-week series of messages that I titled, “The Three Great Ends of the Church.” What are the great ends of the church? What is the purpose of this “collective body of believers” we call the church of Jesus Christ? This question has always been very important and central to the life of the church. Why do we do what we do? Why are we here in the Sanctuary, in God’s House, this morning? The more I read the Scriptures, the more I see three major ends of the church. Ecclesiology, the theological study of the Christian Church, tells us that the Church exists for three major purposes: glorification of God, edification of the saints, and evangelization of the world. Over the next few weeks we will revisit our understanding of our ecclesiology. I want us to understand why we do what we do. I want us to understand that when we make an investment in God’s Kingdom, we make the best investment ever. I want us to understand that when we invest our time, our energy, and our money in the service of the Lord, we make the most beautiful thing. This morning I would like to focus on the first purpose, the first end, of the church and that is the glorification of God. The church is the chief instrument for glorifying God in the world.


The Westminster Shorter Catechism tells us what man’s chief purpose is for being created. The first question in the Catechism is a very important question. Question #1:  What is the chief end of man (humanity)?   This is asking what is the main purpose of humanity. The answer is “to glorify God, and enjoy Him forever.” That is a little understood purpose for which God created humanity. First Peter 4:11 clearly spells this out saying, “If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.”   We are here not to praise ourselves or glorify anyone. As Isaiah wrote in 42:8, “I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols.” How does the Church glorify God in the world? How do we glorify God in the world? Two major thoughts:


First: Accomplishing the Work God Has Given Us

In John 17:4 Jesus prayed, “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.” Jesus prayed those words on the night of His betrayal. I’ve always found it interesting that Jesus defined glorifying God as doing the work the Father had given Him. Obedience to the Father’s will = Father receiving glory.


We can apply this to ourselves as Christ’s followers too. Jesus receives glory when we accomplish the task that He has given us. If the chief end of humanity is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, we might ask: how best do we glorify and enjoy God? The way Jesus glorified the Father was by fulfilling the mission.


In July1879 the Lord worked in the hearts of sixteen believers to establish what it came to be known as the First Presbyterian Church of Elmer. I am sure that those founding members had the mission clear in their minds. The sought the glorification of God, the edification of the saints, and evangelization of their community. Generation after generation, faithful followers of Christ, a great cloud of witnesses, who have belonged to this Church have worked hard to fulfill this mission. Too often, we think of glorifying God in abstract terms. Instead, our concern to glorify the Father ought to drive us to ask bigger questions about the Church’s mission on earth and our part on that.


I like the witness of the Scripture about King David in Acts 13:36. Acts tells us that King David died, only after fulfilling God’s purposes for him in his generation. “Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his ancestors and his body decayed.” In the same way, for such a time as this, God has placed each one of us in a certain location and has charged us to spread the news and fragrance of His kingdom. Jesus could boldly say that God the Father had been glorified, because – as the Son – he had finished the Master’s plan that had been set out for Him from the beginning of time. We, in turn, must not relegate the work the Lord has entrusted to our care.


Second: Glorifying God by Our Faith

Friends, do you realize that a lack of faith does not honor and glorify God? In Romans 4:20 the Bible gives us a great example of this truth, the example of Abraham. Abraham actually glorified God by his faith as Paul wrote, “Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God.” In fact we cannot please God without faith, but with faith God is well pleased as Hebrews 11:6 says. Hebrews chapter 11 is full of people who glorified God in their lives because their faith was only as strong as the object of their faith: God!


Friends, on one hand, we can glorify God by what we do.  On the other hand, we can also bring shame to the name of Christ if we claim to be believers and do not live up to our calling. Paul understood that what we do either glorifies God, glorifies ourselves or brings shame to His Holy Name.  In 1 Corinthians 10:31 Paul said “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” That means that whatever we do, whether serve, pray or give, we must keep in mind that our chief purpose is to glorify God.


Friends, we are here to glorify the Lord. The church is on a mission on this earth. In 2 Corinthians 9:13 the Scripture says that God can be glorified “Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.”


The Apostle Paul was consumed by the desire to glorify God as he said in Philippians 1:20, “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.”


There are many ways to glorify God in our lives and my hope today for the Elmer Presbyterian Church is to be intentional about fulfilling that purpose. We can glorify God by our songs of praise and worship. We can exalt Him in our bodies by our acts of obedience, our selfless acts of service, our willingness to witness, and in our actions.  In 1 Chronicles 16:29 King David puts it in such a beautiful way, “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name; bring an offering and come before Him. Worship the Lord in the splendor of His holiness.” May our lives become a hymn of gory to God. In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!


First Presbyterian Church of Elmer

107 Chestnut Street

Elmer, NJ 08318

Sermon Notes (Sunday March 8th, 2015)

Rev. Mouris Yousef, Pastor

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