Local Church Membership Q&A – 4

Church on a hill

A fellow believer asked for clarification within these posts, and the following red text has been added to this and following posts to hopefully give clarification.

Let’s continue considering Cody’s effort to convince me of the necessity of local church membership, with the assistance of Mark Dever from 9 Mark’s ministries.

Cody’s document supplied several verses included below, claiming they taught Local Church Membership in 6 categories.

In this post, I examine the claim that Local Church Membership, as understood in our modern world is required in order To Guard Ourselves and Others against False Teaching.


3) To Guard Ourselves and Others against False Teaching

1 Timothy 4:1 – 4

1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 
2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, 
3 who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.
 
4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving,

By using this passage under the point of false teaching to justify church membership, Mr Devers seems to be declaring a number of things.

1.) His church has all the truth.

    • Are you willing to actually stand by that statement?

1 Corinthians 14:36

… Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached?

2.) Other churches may be dangerous.

  • Granted, some churches are dangerous. Some churches are less dangerous than others.  As a matter of fact, Paul mentioned that some churches are detrimental to Christian growth.

1 Corinthians 11:17

17 But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse.

3.) The Spirit of God and the Bible is not enough for the believer who wants to obey.

By this, I do not want to imply that the fellowship of believers is unnecessary. This is critical for Christian growth, but the idea that a believer who is serious about living the Christian life needs to obtain a membership in a church to avoid dangerous teaching does not bear out in history.

Many orthodox church bodies have veered from the right path, and taken the entire group of members with them.  If only each believer realized their own responsibility to pursue truth, instead of relying on some membership for protection, the Body may be healthier.

2 Timothy 3:1-9

1 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 
2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 
3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 
4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 
5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 
6 For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, 
7 always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. 
8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. 
9 But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men.

Many of the comments above could relate to this passage also, but it is interesting that 3:8 mentions those who “oppose the truth”.

The truth is the issue.  Does the Word of God prescribe church membership?

Jude 1:3

Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.

I think I am seeing a pattern in the passages being used to justify church membership.

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It seems that some of the passages are defining requirements that the faithful believer is to perform, and the requirement of church membership is defined as the way to perform these duties.

This seems to tear the intent out of the injunctions, since many who read these passages might consider the means of performing these duties as merely “joining” a church.  I have always considered Jude’s theme to be contending for the truth, and by implication, to not be depending on traditions or oral commandments.

Jude 1:17 – 23

17 But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. 
18 They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” 
19 It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. 
20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 
21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. 
22 And have mercy on those who doubt; 
23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.

Although Jude is talking of mockers, the concept of “separating themselves” is a concern in my mind.

When I was a young believer, and had dutifully joined a church, I made the mistake of hanging out with believers that weren’t a part of our “club”.

It seems that my joining that particular church implied that I was to be separate from other believers.  It didn’t quite sound right, but what was I to know – I was young and just learning what the Scriptures had to say.


I will continue posting my response to each of the 6 reasons in following days. I do hope you will join me in my discussion with Cody, and supply comment or correction from the Word for our mutual edification.
If you read something in this discussion that concerns you, please take the time to send me your comments or reply within the post. I look forward to hearing from you.

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