Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Modern March | a Christian blog

Modern March | a Christian blog

For the Love of God – Part 4: Reflecting God’s Love in… Church Membership

Posted: 22 Nov 2011 07:20 AM PST

Part 4: Reflecting God’s Love in… Church Membership

For most, church membership is a box to check off the proverbial church to-do list. It is a tradition, a felt obligation, or a way to meet people and get "plugged-in." What if church membership is more? What if church membership is part of God's design in manifesting His love through the church?

You see, church membership is not specifically listed in the New Testament by name but it is certainly implied in many ways:

  1. Elders are given an office of authority to oversee the flock and are held accountable for their souls (Matt. 18:18-20, Acts 20:28, 1 Tim. 3:5, Heb. 13:17, 1 Pet. 5:2-4).
  2. Believers are seen as fellowshipping both at the temple (a designated place of worship) and in their homes (Acts 2:42-47).
  3. Believers are to exercise gifts as individual members of one local body (1 Cor. 12).
  4. There was a sinful person "among them" that was disciplined out of the group and the church carries out discipline and accountability (Matt. 18:15-20, 1 Cor. 5, 1 Cor, 6:15).

There are several other passages that could be added here, but this is a concise portrait of a group of people worshiping and living life together in a group setting. All through the Old Testament it is a major aspect of a believer's life to go to the temple for worship and the New Testament consistently gives instruction to churches by letters written to them and their leaders.

The Kingdom of God

It is possibly a less "gray area" approach to church membership by saying that God's work is done through the local church comprised of believers. Believers are adopted into God's family (Rom. 8:15, Eph. 5:1) to receive His blessings (Eph. 1:14) and do His work (Eph. 2:10). Simply put, if we are God's people then we are called to act like His people. This means that the life of a believer is now bound to advancing His Kingdom rather than the world. We are identified and called out (the Greek word ekklesia, meaning "assembly") through our new lives in Christ. This call of God is a call of gracious love to His chosen people that should cause them to enact the same gracious love to the lost souls of the world.

Church membership is a covenant to God's Kingdom work. Jesus specifically gives the keys to this Kingdom to His followers (Matt. 16:19) and tells them that this a blood covenant (Matt. 26:28). As with all divine covenants in Scripture, God establishes His Kingdom through these promises to His people. It is safe to assume that Paul and the other apostles were not mistaken in establishing local church gatherings everywhere they went. These gatherings, and still are, the perfect place to love one another and be loved by the leaders God has placed over you.

Without the church, there is no place for elders to teach and oversee or for believers to worship, fellowship, and provide accountability to one another on an organized and consistent basis. The question is not whether or not the church is important. The question is whether or not believers find it important enough to commit to.


Up Next: Part 5: Reflecting God's Love in: Church Discipline

Filed under: Articles, Church, Gospel


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