This text is a part of the 10 Issues You Ought to Know collection.
1. Membership just isn’t within the Bible.
A minimum of, its not there in a proof-text form of manner. Native church membership just isn’t the eleventh commandment, or an extra beatitude, or an additional verse in some obscure manuscript custom. However sort of just like the doctrine of the Trinity, effectively see that native church membership is an efficient and mandatory consequence of whats within the Bible.
2. Membership clarifies the excellence that redemption creates.
Redemption creates a distinction between Gods folks and not-Gods folks. In actual fact, thats Gods acknowledged purpose for bringing the plagues on Egypt, however not on Israel, proper earlier than the Exodus: That you could be know that the Lord makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel (Ex. 11:7; cf. Ex. 8:2223; 9:4). The plagues preview the good distinction that redemption is about to publicizethe distinction between the redeemed and the unredeemed. Native church membership just isn’t the one manner we make clear the excellence between the world and the church, however it’s a technique we make it seen and plain. Even within the ebook of Acts, what does the gospel create? Distinct, seen, native church buildings.
Paul says in 2 Corinthians 6:147:1 Don’t be unequally yoked with unbelievers. That does, finally, apply to marriage; however Paul applies it first to membership. We’re the temple of the dwelling God. He doesnt say, We’re temples, individually. Its not a reference to our particular person our bodies (as it’s in 1 Cor. 6:19). He says we’re the temple, company singular. Its a company reference to the church as Gods dwelling place. And theres a twin software: Exit from their midst. Dont determine with the world, its leaders and its loves, and be separate from them. Establish togethercorporatelywith Gods temple, the church in Corinth. And dont take identified unbelievers into membership of that churchdont yoke up with them within the harness of discipleship to Jesus and native church ministrybecause that can blur the road.
Mark Dever, Paul Alexander
Dever and Alexander suggest a mannequin of full reliance and submission to the gospel when constructing a wholesome church. Nice useful resource for pastors, elders, and others within the vitality of their church.
3. God fashions membership.
Simply two months after God redeems his folks, he counts them (Num. 1:13). God himself practices and fashions for us a type of membership. And God continues to follow membership within the type of the ebook of life (Phil. 4:3; Rev. 3:5; 17:8; 20:12, 15, 27; 22:19). Training native church membership is a technique we be imitators of God (Eph. 5:1). Perhaps that is one purpose the early church practiced it, too (Acts 2:41).
4. Membership turns the keys of the dominion.
No, I dont imply that being a member of a neighborhood church robotically will get you a inexperienced mild into heaven. Some folks have gone to hell as life-long members of church buildings. However in Matthew 18:17, the facility of the keys, which Jesus provides to the church, is the facility to externally affirm or deny the orthodoxy of gospel proclamation and the genuineness of gospel religion. From the churchs perspective, membership is the congregation affirming (albeit fallibly) someone’s doctrine and testimony within the gospel, and so affirming visibly what heaven has already declared of them invisiblytheyre members of the church common by religion and repentance towards Jesus. That affirmation is the job not simply of the elders, however of the entire congregation (see 2 Cor. 2:6).
5. Membership is a significant dedication.
When God counts his folks for the very first time in Numbers 1:13, he counts everybody grownup male prepared for battle. God was forming a military, and he needed everybody to know who could possibly be counted on to assist perform the conquest in Canaan. Dont fear, I believe girls needs to be church members simply as a lot as males! The argument right here is that Christians needs to be counted in, in order that we could be counted on. Thats what native church membership ought to imply. Its not simply signing your title on a chunk of paper. From the people perspective, membership is what your signature signifies.
It signifies your dedication to imagine and dwell in a biblical, God-honoring manner. That is why many church buildings (together with ours) require potential members to signal a press release of religion and a church covenant. Signing the assertion of religion signifies that others can rely on you to show and abide by the doctrine acknowledged in it. Signing the church covenant signifies that others can rely on you to dwell in response to the commitments laid out in a church covenantliving a holy life, attending companies, praying on your fellow church members, serving them, loving them, supporting the churchs self-discipline and attending its ordinances (baptism and the Lords Supper), rising in fact and love, evangelizing your unsaved pals, giving financially to assist the ministry and wishes of the church, and so on.
What if I mentioned to my spouse earlier than we had been married, Honey, you already know I like you, and I can love you simply as effectively with out marrying you; so why dont we simply maintain it frequent regulation? Everyone knows thats weak. Why? As a result of it shows worry of dedication. A marriage ceremony publicizes and solemnizes the covenant dedication between man and spouse. And native membership publicizes and solemnizes the covenant dedication between a member and a church. In fact, its not all the time as everlasting as marriage, however it’s a covenant dedication.
6. Membership applies biblical metaphors for the church.
The Bible sees native church buildings as flocks of sheep (1 Pet. 5:3). Its by no means a great factor for a sheep to go solo on the lookout for inexperienced grass. Rogue sheep are straightforward prey. We belong within the security of a flock. Membership helps maintain us gathered with the opposite sheep below the safety of the shepherd. Moreover, what sort of under-shepherd doesnt know which explicit sheep the proprietor has entrusted to him? Membership helps us maintain monitor of which sheep had been accountable to graze, collect, information, and guard.
Paul tells Timothy that the native church in Ephesus is sort of a household with members (1 Tim. 3:15). Pal, what sort of dad or mother would you be when you didnt know which of the kids on the block you had been accountable to feed, or which of them needs to be in your own home at bedtime? I dont self-discipline the children down the road; I self-discipline my very own youngsters. Its unsafe to be a child with out dad and mom and a house. Membership helps church leaders know who belongs to the family, and it lets members of the family know the place they need to go when its meal time and relaxation.
If a neighborhood church just like the one in Ephesus is a bodily physique, members of each other (Eph. 4:25; 1 Cor. 12:27), then every particular person is a physique partan arm or a leg, a hand, foot, thumb, or toe. A physique half indifferent from the remainder of its physique just isn’t lovely or cool. Its grotesque. However thats what it appears to be like like for a Christian to refuse to affix a neighborhood churchan arm flopping round on the bottom. Arms dont final lengthy when theyre indifferent from a physique. And consider what occurs to a church physique if you refuse to connect your half, otherwise you violently detach from it . . . effectively, we are able to solely take the metaphor up to now; however Christian, to be what God designed you to be, to be a part of the physique, you should determine which physique youre going to be hooked up to, after which formally, visibly, be part of that bodyby changing into a member of it. Moreover, your church physique wants you, even when youre a tiny pinky toe or an unseen, uncelebrated pancreas.
7. Membership facilitates ministry.
It sounds massive to say that youre a member of the common church and that you simply love all Christians on the earth. However can you actually love all Christians on the earth equally effectively? To bear one anothers burdens, spur each other on to like and good deeds, think about one another extra essential than yourselves, bear with each other in love, exhort each other, and all the remaining, it appears we have to be collectively in the identical place. Its the folks sitting subsequent to you, throughout from you, two aisles up, 4 aisles backthe native peoplethat are the almost certainly beneficiaries of your love. Native church membership says, These are the actual saints Im going to prioritize in my discipling and lovewarts and all.
Membership helps maintain us gathered with the opposite sheep below the safety of the shepherd.
8. Membership facilitates self-discipline.
Matthew 18:17 says, If he refuses to take heed to them, inform it to the church. And if he refuses to pay attention even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Who’s the church there? Is Jesus telling the disciples that anytime any professing Christian stays unrepentant, that each Christian on the earth needs to be instructed about it? No, hes referring to the native church. However as quickly as we are saying that, we’re assuming that there was a transparent manner of discerning who was a part of the native church. Who did they inform? Each Christian in the identical metropolis? Each Christian who had ever attended that native church greater than as soon as? Its extra doubtless that they had been to inform the members of that native church.
Paul assumes as a lot in 1 Corinthians 5:12. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not these inside the church whom you’re to guage? God judges these exterior. Purge the evil particular person from amongst you. Paul assumes the church in Corinth knew who was in it and who was not; so how did they know who was who? There appears to be, in 1 Corinthians 5, some clear manner of discerning whos inside and whos exterior a neighborhood church.
You get the identical concept in 2 Corinthians 2:56: Now if anybody has induced ache, he has induced it to not me, however in some measurenot to place it too severelyto all of you. For such a one, this punishment by the bulk is sufficient, so it is best to slightly flip to forgive and luxury him, or he could also be overwhelmed by extreme sorrow. This paragraph is speaking about the identical sinning brother from 1 Corinthians 5, the one who was sleeping together with his fathers spouse. Evidently, they’d exercised church self-discipline towards this man. However discover who did itthe bulk. Nearly all of who? That phrase majority means that there was a identified quantity of people that made up the native church in Corinth. Nearly all of that quantity had determined to subtract this man from that quantity, to warn him that he shouldn’t rely himself redeemed if he remained unrepentant.
9. Membership facilitates the elders accountability to God.
Obey your leaders and undergo them, for they’re retaining watch over your souls, as those that must give an account (Heb. 13:17). Our church leaders must give an account for the way they watch over our souls. However how can they offer an account in the event that they dont know whose souls theyre accountable to supervise?
In 1 Peter 5:23, Peter tells the elders to Shepherd the flock . . amongst you, after which he says elders shouldn’t be domineering over these in your cost. The phrase there may be truly over the allotments, the parts, the heaps. Its as if Peters saying that sure folks had been allotted by Gods windfall to be in a selected church, below explicit elders, at a selected time. These folks made up the flock amongst you which ones the elders had been to shepherd. They werent to shepherd each flockjust the flock amongst you. Once more, its not a proof-text. However Peter thought the elders of the church he was addressing knew which explicit Christians belonged to their flockwhich ones God would at some point maintain them accountable for overseeing.
10. Membership expresses love and obedience to Jesus.
By calling your self a Christian, youre saying that you simply undergo the kingship and authority of Jesus. However Jesus has delegated a few of his authority to his under-shepherdspastors and elders of native church buildings. Jesus needs his sheep below the care of these under-shepherds. However when you refuse to submit your self to any of the under-shepherds that Jesus gives for you, how will you say youre submitting to Jesus?
When the risen Christ confronts Saul on the street to Damascus in Acts 9, he asks him, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? And Saul mentioned, Who’re you, Lord? And Jesus replied, I’m Jesus, whom you’re persecuting. Jesus identifies himself so intently with the native church that he considers himself persecuted when the native church is persecuted. What about youdo you determine your self with the native church?
Paul Alexander is the coauthor, with Mark Dever, of The Deliberate Church: Constructing Your Ministry on the Gospel.