Why Should I Join a N.T. Church After I am Saved?

Intro:

  1. What’s wrong with these two statements– “We don’t attend one particular church, we like to visit several and go when we feel like going,” or this one, “We don’t believe in church membership, we are saved but don’t think membership is commanded or needed.
  2. To neglect or refuse to join a local church after salvation reflects a misunderstanding of the believer’s responsibility to the body of Christ and the head of the body.

Transition: It is essential that every believer understand what church membership is and why it matters. Membership matters, it is important and carries certain responsibilities and privileges.

Two thoughts- The Biblical definition of church membership, and the Biblical basis of church membership.

The Biblical Definition of Church Membership

  1. When saved, the believer becomes a member of the body of Christ. He identifies with Christ thru baptism, and then yokes himself with the local expression of that body, the local church.
  2. To become a member of a church is to commit oneself to an local body of believers who have joined together for divine purposes.

I want to share 6 purposes:

  1. To come under the teaching of God’s Word.
    1 Tim. 4:13, “Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.”
  2. Serving and edifying one another through the proper use of spiritual gifts [Rom. 12:3; 1 Cor. 12:4-21; 1 Pet. 4:10; Eph. 4:11-12].
  3. Participating in the ordinances [Acts 2:38-42]. The ordinances were given to the church not the individual.
  4. Proclaiming the gospel to the lost [Matt. 28:18-20].
  5. To meet for public worship and prayer [Acts 2:41-47].
  6. When one becomes a member of a church, he submits himself to the care and authority of qualified church leaders that God gave and placed in the church.

The Biblical Basis for Church Membership.

Share 4- the example of the early church, the existence of church government, the exercise of church discipline, and the exhortation to mutual edification.

The example of the early church calls for church membership.

  1. In the early church, coming to Christ meant coming to the church. When someone repented and believed in Christ, they were baptized and added to the church [Acts 2:41, 47; 16:5]. Yes they had a private and personal commitment; but they also joined with other believers in a local assembly and devoted themselves to teaching, fellowship, ordinances, and prayer [Acts 2:42].
  2. Paul’s letters of the N.T. were written to local churches. The N.T. letters give evidence the Lord expected saints to be together.
  3. The early church kept a list of members that grew as people were saved [Acts 2:41, 47; 16:5]. They kept a list of widows who qualified for support [1 Tim. 5:9].
  4. The early church wrote letters of recommendation when members went to another city and church [Acts 18:27; Romans 16:1-2; 2 Cor. 3:1-2].
  5. Acts records certain terminology that fits only church membership. “The whole congregation” [Acts 6:5], “The church in Jerusalem” [Acts 8:1], “the disciples in Jerusalem” [9;26], “the whole church” [Acts 15:17], the church was defined by boundaries.
  6. The believers gathered together. We are “called out ones,” yet called to be together [1 Cor. 5:4; 14:23; Heb. 10:25].

I am often asked about home churches, or meeting in homes. Remember that the local church is not a building but a people [Rom. 16:5].

I see nothing wrong with a church in your home or small cell groups, if we do what a church is supposed to do. I see 3 questions we must answer:

  1. Why did the early church meet in homes? The early church met in homes because there was no buildings and because of persecution.
  2. Why are you meeting in your home? If you are meeting in your home to counter the “traditional church,” then you are meeting for the wrong reasons. Many times these people have a problem submitting to authority and have selfish egos and a “bone to pick,” with the traditional church.
  3. Who is meeting in your home? If it’s only your family, then its not a N.T. church, its no more than a family devotional? Everywhere I read in the N.T. where the church met in a home, there were others present besides their families.

The existence of church government calls for church membership.

  1. The N.T. teaches that Pastor/Pastors is to oversee local body of believers. This would presuppose a clearly defined group of church members who are under their care.
  2. These pastors are to shepherd God’s people [Acts 20:28; 1 Pet. 5:2], to labor among them [1 Thess. 5:12], to have charge over them [1 Thess. 5:12; 1 Tim. 5:17], and to watch over their souls because they will give an account of those allotted to their charge [Heb. 13:17].
  3. The believers are to submit to their leaders [Heb. 13;17]. If one refuses to join a church and place himself under their care, then they have no leaders. This means he disobeys Heb. 13:17.

The exercise of church discipline calls for church membership.

  1. God outlines a four-step process for restoring a sinning so-called believer in Matt. 18:15-17. Other passages give directives as well [1 Cor. 5:1-13; 1 Tim. 5:20; Titus 3:10-11].
  2. What does this mean in relation to church membership?
  3. The leaders of the church must know who their members are if they are to administer discipline.
  4. We are not responsible for the members of any other church, but Trinity Baptist. Acts 20:17, 28; 1 Peter 5:1-3

The exhortation to mutual edification calls for church membership.

  1. Every member of Christ’s body is to be devoted to the growth of the body. We are to practice the “one anothers” and exercise our spiritual gifts. Heb. 10:24-25
  2. What does this mean in relation to church membership? Mutual edification can only take place in the context of the corporate body of Christ.

Con: Membership matters-

We are to live out our commitment to Christ thru a local church.

That entails living a godly life before a lost world.
Exercising our spiritual gifts in the body.
Giving financially to the Lord’s work thru the local church.
Praying for the Lord’s work thru the local church.
Giving and receiving instruction in the church.
Faithfully participating in corporate worship.

Membership matters- We come to faith in Christ, and then we come to the local church to be baptized and grow as Christians.

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