Local Church Membership Q&A – 18

Church on a hill

Previous posts in this series were based on a pamphlet provided to me in my search for direction regarding local church membership.  A brother named Cody sought to help me and I wish him well.

When I replied with the previous responses, I did not hear from him for a period of time.  Of course, I feared I may have come off a bit strong, and in the interest of maintaining communication, reached out to him again.


Time for Questions

As I have been thinking on this topic, I have considered 9 questions.

One question will be offered for comment in the following posts

Consider and respond, or again, if you want to discuss just let me know.

Does Local Church Membership facilitate church discipline effectively?

This might be the most convincing argument for local church membership, if the church is modeled after an organizational structure, but the church is modeled after a family, so this argument is only effective if the premise of organizational church life is considered to be the norm.

Since this is not what the New Testament models the church after, we have to reconsider our thinking.

An example is always helpful for me.

As I have sought to be involved in local churches, being members for many many years, I have seen many families leave the fellowship and move onto other churches.  Not so often, I have seen individuals leave on bad terms, (whether under formal discipline or not, I don’t know, even though the Lord says the final step in discipline is to bring the offender before the whole church)  These disciplined folk usually end up in either another local fellowship, or end up wandering aimlessly.  In my opinion, it seems that the discipline did not have it’s intended effect, that is, the restoration of the believer to the church.

What is the answer?

Make the offender miss the group – that is, reach into the offenders life (prior to any offense) and invest time and effort so that the offender will miss the group.  Having a name taken off a list is not that effective!

Most, if not all offenders would admit that the reason they may have considered coming back to the original fellowship is because they missed the people, not the fact that their name was off a list.

So I have to ask you – What is the purpose of the list in relation to the act of discipline?

Matthew 16:18

 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.


Our next post will address a final question concerning the teaching of local church membership.  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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Local Church Membership Q&A – 17

Church on a hill

Previous posts in this series were based on a pamphlet provided to me in my search for direction regarding local church membership.  A brother named Cody sought to help me and I wish him well.

When I replied with the previous responses, I did not hear from him for a period of time.  Of course, I feared I may have come off a bit strong, and in the interest of maintaining communication, reached out to him again.


Time for Questions

As I have been thinking on this topic, I have considered 9 questions.

One question will be offered for comment in the following posts Consider and respond, or again, if you want to discuss just let me know.

Does Local Church Membership assist in performing the work of the Body?

In one discussion with a brother, (he calls himself a pastor – I tell you this so you may understand the dilemma my question poses -) I asked the following question.

Would you rather have a faithful believer that is not a formal member of your church, or a formal member that is not necessarily faithful?

I don’t remember him answering.

Since I cannot find any place in the Scriptures that clearly demands this practice, the Body of Christ must be able to perform all of it’s duties without the imposition of this practice. Not only does the New Testament teach this, Christian history affirms the same.

The imposition of a formal church membership is associated more often than not with religious organizations that persecute believers.  Thankfully as believers in the west, we do not live in this condition today!

In the passages that specifically describe the working of the Body of Christ, (universally or locally), local church membership teaching or instruction is painfully absent.

It seems the Lord will build His church.

Matthew 16:18

18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.


Our next post will address another question concerning the teaching of local church membership.  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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Local Church Membership Q&A – 16

Church on a hill

Previous posts in this series were based on a pamphlet provided to me in my search for direction regarding local church membership.  A brother named Cody sought to help me and I wish him well.

When I replied with the previous responses, I did not hear from him for a period of time.  Of course, I feared I may have come off a bit strong, and in the interest of maintaining communication, reached out to him again.


As I have been thinking on this topic, I have considered 9 questions.

Time for Questions

One question will be offered for comment in the following posts Consider and respond, or again, if you want to discuss just let me know.

Does Local Church Membership foster an “us vs them” mentality?

By this I mean among believers.

How many times have you heard those under your care speak of other believers as “those over there” or “that other church on the corner”? I understand that we live in a fallen world, but creating or maintaining a system that fosters this attitude is counter-productive in my opinion.

Notice Paul’s method of teaching the Corinthian body, by using the practices of other groups of Christians to “shame them” into conformity with the rest of the Body of Christ.

1 Corinthians 11:16

16 If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God.

How often does a local church seek to be different from the rest of the Body, and by that activity, miss out on many blessings. Of course, this should not apply in individual personal holiness, for we are all called to follow the Lord and not others, but the expression of that life in Christ should be to be at peace with others.


Our next post will address another question concerning the teaching of loacal church membership.  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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Local Church Membership Q&A – 15

Church on a hill

Previous posts in this series were based on a pamphlet provided to me in my search for direction regarding local church membership.  A brother named Cody sought to help me and I wish him well.

When I replied with the previous responses, I did not hear from him for a period of time.  Of course, I feared I may have come off a bit strong, and in the interest of maintaining communication, reached out to him again.


As I have been thinking on this topic, I have considered 9 questions.

Time for Questions

One question will be offered for comment in the following posts Consider and respond, or again, if you want to discuss just let me know.

Does Local Church Membership follow after pragmatism or edification?  

By that, I would refer to the following.

1 Corinthians 10:23

23 “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.

If, for the sake of argument, the local church is “allowed” to have membership rolls, how is this beneficial to the average Christian?  Remember, permissible actions do not equate to be pleasing actions!

Membership could be seen as a method of allowing or restricting a believer from christian activities or “full fellowship”  This seems to be hurtful to the believer outside and create a sense of “arrival” for the one who is in “the club”.

It would seem that the benefit goes to those who might boast about the members. Although the principle topic is circumcision in Galations, could the attitude of Paul toward the judaizers be similar in regard to those who require local church membership from a believer?

Consider the following very loose paraphrase of Gal 6:12-13  (My apologies to Paul!)

Galations 6:12 – 13

As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be members; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.

For neither they themselves who are members keep the membership agreement they signed; but desire to have you sign up for membership, that they may glory in your potential attendance.


Our next post will address another question concerning the teaching of local church membership.  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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A Study of Eternal / Everlasting

everlastingEverlasting – It boggles the mind – at least my mind!

How can I grasp this concept?

I remember laying in bed at night when I was a young’n and thinking about the eternal, and just when I thought I had it figger’d out, some extra years would appear in my thoughts. I felt like a dog chasing my tail!

“Everlasting” in the Bible

When I was a dog chasing my tail, I didn’t have the desire or will power to go to the source to research this concept. Now that I am a Christian, I have the Word of God to search for answers.

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So lets Consider the Bible and search for answers.

First off, lets find out the words, in the Old and New Testament, that the inspired writers used to describe this concept!

Four Old Testament Hebrew words and three New Testament Greek words are translated to describe the concept of eternal/everlasting .

infinity 2

OLAM – Old Testament “Eternal”
The most common word in the Old Testament is “OLAM”.  The following table analyzes this word in describing various eternal/everlasting things.

You might be asking by this time – What’s your point Carl?

infinity 1My point is that we cannot interpret the Word of God in a strictly literal, “technically accurate” manner.  Some folk have complained that this makes the Bible an unreadable document, that is, they could not simply pick up a Bible and understand it correctly.

When was the last time you considered the Bible to be a cartoon?  When I pick up a Blondie or Garfield cartoon, I don’t intend to spend more than a few seconds (at most) in understanding the message being conveyed.  I think the attitude towards the Word should be somewhat different.

The Bible was written in a completely different culture, time and place than what we live in.  To assume that  we have the right to simply understand the message in a 20th century North American context is foolishness.  Unless, of course, we see the Bible as a magic talisman, instead of a message from the living God.

In the case of this particular study, I find it amazing that some things that are described as eternal and everlasting (in our mindset) are not!

Does this take away from the core definition of eternal/everlasting? No – the core meaning is the core meaning!  What I think I have tripped over is how the overall context can affect the specific message of a particular word.

What do I mean?

Consider

Gen 9:16

And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.

What will happen to this covenant when there is no living creatures on the earth?  (BTW – that will happen!)  It is eternal between the two parties that enter into the covenant, so the default message is that although the term everlasting is used, it is not everlasting/eternal. The everlasting condition of this covenant is dependent on the existence of “every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth”.


How about this one.  The land of Canaan is to be an everlasting possession for the seed of Abraham.

Gen 17:8

And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.

Two issues erupt in this verse.

  1. Who is the seed of Abraham?
  2. Is this promise or it’s reaffirmations unconditional?

The first point is simple to answer.  Paul labors the point of describing who the seed is in the book of Galations.

Gal 3:29

And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Then two more issues occur to me. – (Come on Carl – gimme a break!!)

Was this promise or it’s reaffirmations unconditional?  Or did the Jewish people misunderstand this verse and “literally” interpret the promise, assuming the land was theirs unconditionally forever?

The very next verse after the great promise to Abraham, the Lord stated…

… Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations.

Unconditional promise?  Could the Jewish nation survive if they were disobedient and rebellious? (Did they?)  Could they assume upon verse 8 and ignore verse 9?  (What about the nation of Israel today?  Are they presently keeping “my covenant”? )  The everlasting possession was dependent on the Jewish nation’s keeping of “my covenant”.  It is very interesting to me that the covenant being referred to here was the Abrahamic covenant and that the nation’s allegience to the Siniatic covenant revealed the heart of the people towards God.  Additional examples of how the eternal/everlasting concept is modified by the context, can be found above and I would encourage you to consider them.

Does this contextual effect on the concept of eternal/everlasting continue into the New Testament?  I will leave that for you to study out.  Get back to me when you find something out, eh?

I gotta go study some Garfield!garfield


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Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

Local Church Membership Q&A – 14

Church on a hill

Previous posts in this series were based on a pamphlet provided to me in my search for direction regarding local church membership.  A brother named Cody sought to help me and I wish him well.

When I replied with the previous responses, I did not hear from him for a period of time.  Of course, I feared I may have come off a bit strong, and in the interest of maintaining communication, reached out to him again.


As I have been thinking on this topic, I have considered 9 questions.

Time for Questions

One question will be offered for comment in the following posts Consider and respond, or again, if you want to discuss just let me know.

Does Local Church Membership “have its privileges”?

Remember, as believers we are to take our marching orders from the Word, and not lean on the secular world (not even popular credit card commercials) for our wisdom.

I never considered asking my children if they wanted to join the family in order to fully enjoy all the privileges (and responsibilities) of the family. My wife and I just figured they were members of the family due to their birth into our family.

Is this wrong?

Am I missing something?


Our next post will address another question concerning the teaching of loacal church membership.  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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Local Church Membership Q&A – 13

Church on a hill

Previous posts in this series were based on a pamphlet provided to me in my search for direction regarding local church membership.  A brother named Cody sought to help me and I wish him well.

When I replied with the previous responses, I did not hear from him for a period of time.  Of course, I feared I may have come off a bit strong, and in the interest of maintaining communication, reached out to him again.


As I have been thinking on this topic, I have considered 9 questions.

Time for Questions

One question will be offered for comment in the following posts Consider and respond, or again, if you want to discuss just let me know.

Does Local Church Membership allow for a “country club” environment?

Remember the Biblical image of the church is one of family, not of an exclusive/elite club!

Formal church membership smacks of club-ship (Is that a word?)


Our next post will address another question concerning the teaching of local church membership.  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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Local Church Membership Q&A – 12

Church on a hill

Previous posts in this series were based on a pamphlet provided to me in my search for direction regarding local church membership.  A brother named Cody sought to help me and I wish him well.

When I replied with the previous responses, I did not hear from him for a period of time.  Of course, I feared I may have come off a bit strong, and in the interest of maintaining communication, reached out to him again.


As I have been thinking on this topic, I have considered 9 questions.

Time for Questions

One question will be offered for comment in the following posts Consider and respond, or again, if you want to discuss just let me know.

Does Local Church Membership minimize the importance of joining the worldwide Church, ie the Body of Christ?

Sometimes I will be able to speak with someone concerning the invitation to follow Jesus. How many times have I heard folks say they belong to a church.  (And we all know what they mean, since the local church membership concept is so prevalent in this society!)  Much confusion is propagated by the emphasis of the local church membership concept over and above the call to follow Jesus.


Our next post will address another question concerning the teaching of local church membership.  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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Local Church Membership Q&A – 11

Church on a hill

Previous posts in this series were based on a pamphlet provided to me in my search for direction regarding local church membership.  A brother named Cody sought to help me and I wish him well.

When I replied with the previous responses, I did not hear from him for a period of time.  Of course, I feared I may have come off a bit strong, and in the interest of maintaining communication, reached out to him again.


As I have been thinking on this topic, I have considered 9 questions.

One question will be offered for comment in the following posts Consider and respond, or again, if you want to discuss just let me know.

Time for Questions

Does Local Church Membership sometimes cause believers to sin against their own conscience in an effort to obey a man?

How many times have I heard a man, or even a group of men, announce from the pulpit a “dream” or a “vision” that they have for the local church they are leading. Many times the call goes out to join this effort.  Sometimes this call for action becomes a litmus test for faithfulness to the Christian life.

Some believers are intimidated into a service that is not their calling. (Obedience is better than sacrifice.)  This is a shameful condition, since this believer may be missing out on God’s specific direction for their life, and possibly effecting the “vision” group improperly.

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Some follow their conscience and quietly defer the invitation.  At best, this may create a passive division within the body. At worst, this action may become a test of submissiveness, resulting in the judgment of rebellion,  that ends in an unnecessary discipline or offense.

Cody – remember that Christianity is about following Jesus and serving others. Causing a believer to go against his conscience is a serious issue in Paul’s mind.

Consider …

1 Corinthians 8:12

12 Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.


Our next post will address another question concerning the teaching of local church membership.  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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Local Church Membership Q&A – 10

Church on a hill

Previous posts in this series were based on a pamphlet provided to me in my search for direction regarding local church membership.  A brother named Cody sought to help me and I wish him well.

When I replied with the previous responses, I did not hear from him for a period of time.  Of course, I feared I may have come off a bit strong, and in the interest of maintaining communication, reached out to him again.


As I have been thinking on this topic, I have considered 9 questions.

One question will be offered for comment in each of the following posts. Consider and respond, or again, if you want to discuss just let me know.

Time for Questions

Does Local Church Membership actually create divisions among Christians?

If I were to join your church, would you restrict me from joining any other church?

How does this not create a condition of partiality?

James 2:4

4 have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

These distinctions are not described as unnecessary, illogical or evil in themselves, but simply “distinctions among themselves”

James 2:8-9

8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 
9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.

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Even though James does not describe these distinctions as evil, he does describe the outcome of the actions as sin.

Although many time the Bible speaks of a particular teaching only once, it is not so with this concept.

James is echoed by Paul in Galations.

Galations 3:25

25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 
26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 
27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 
29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

Galatians 6:10

10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Notice that Paul did not restrict the act of goodness to a particular household of faith.  There is no law against love.  I think Paul said something about that in this very book of Galations.

I let you look it up!


Our next post will address another question concerning the teaching of loacal church membership.  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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Local Church Membership Q&A – 9

Church on a hill

Previous posts in this series were based on a pamphlet provided to me in my search for direction regarding local church membership.  A brother named Cody sought to help me and I wish him well.

When I replied with the previous responses, I did not hear from him for a period of time.  Of course, I feared I may have come off a bit strong, and in the interest of maintaining communication, reached out to him again.

This is a continuation of a previous study on the definition of “Church” as found in the New Testament.


Many Churches, One Membership

We are not to be independent, different or detached from other believers.  Consider the famine that occurred in Jerusalem in the book of Acts. This suffering enabled all the churches of Asia to contribute to the needs in Jerusalem.  It wasn’t just the  Episcopal, Lutheran or Pentecostal churches that Paul received gifts from.  Every Church, or should I say the Universal Church came to the assistance of the famine stricken area.

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The Bible teaches a Universal Church with “membership granted” by faith in Christ.  The Bible also teaches of many local churches, both defined by the local area (eg. a province or a city) or a group of believers (ie in a home).

In none of the following passages describing this phenomenon, is there any evidence that it conflicts with the teaching of the universal singular church.  This is important to realize in order to keep a proper perspective on the Body of Christ. 

Churches defined by province

Galatians 1:2

2 and all the brothers who are with me, To the churches of Galatia:

Churches defined by locality

1 Corinthians 1:2

2 To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:

Churches defined by meeting place

Romans 16:5

5 Greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in Asia.

1 Corinthians 16:19

19 The churches of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Prisca, together with the church in their house, send you hearty greetings in the Lord.

Colossians 4:15

15 Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house.

Philemon 1:2

2 and Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house:

The churches are local expressions of a united membership.  Remember, that when Paul heard of the those in the Corinthian church joining to a “man”, that was fighting words for him!


Our next post will begin 9 questions concerning local church membership.

I do hope you will join me 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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Local Church Membership Q&A – 8

Church on a hill

Previous posts in this series were based on a pamphlet provided to me in my search for direction regarding local church membership.  A brother named Cody sought to help me and I wish him well.

When I replied with the previous responses, I did not hear from him for a period of time.  Of course, I feared I may have come off a bit strong, and in the interest of maintaining communication, reached out to him again.


Cody

Since we last chatted, I have been thinking about our discussions on the church membership teaching, and in reflection, I fear I have have probably come off as one who only tears something down, and we know that as believers, we need to encourage and exhort one another also.  With that in mind, I would like to offer a few positive comments in relation to church membership from the Word of God.  Again, if you have any time in the future you would like to discuss these issues, please let me know.

A few additional comments before I begin.

In no way am I suggesting abandoning the gathering of the saints in any act of worship or fellowship.  This is not the point of the past posts.  The point is that I can not find the added requirement of formal church membership in the Word, and that the concept seems to be actually condemned in the New Testament.

One of the strongest passages that alerted me to this teaching is found in 1 Corinthians 1.  Paul is condemning the seeds of denominationalism (what a long word!) and disunity, as believers learn to follow men’s opinions, or separate from other believers, boasting they follow Christ (only?)

1 Corinthians 1:10-12

10 I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. 
11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. 
12 What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.”

At this point, I feel it would be beneficial to take a tour of the New Testament and review passages that actually define church.  It is important to understand that the Word defines the Church as One Church.

NEW TESTAMENT TEACHING OF ONE CHURCH

Rom 12:4-5

4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 
5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

submit-to-authority-728x5001 Corinthians 10:17

17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.

1 Corinthians 12:12-13

12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 
13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body–Jews or Greeks, slaves or free–and all were made to drink of one Spirit

1 Corinthians 12:20

20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

1 Corinthians 12:25

25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.

Ephesians 4:4

4 There is one body and one Spirit–just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call–

Colossians 3:15

15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

Time for QuestionsWould you agree that all who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ have already joined the Church?   And to join the church has one prerequisite, per Paul in Galations 3:26 (among many other verses)

Galatians 3:26

26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.

Our next post will address additional definitions of the church as found in the New Testament.  I hope you will join me future posts and supply comment or correction from the Word for our mutual edification.  Thanks for visiting and I hope you found some truth that has edified your life today.


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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Local Church Membership Q&A – 7

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 Glorify God.


6) To Glorify God

Matthew 5:13-16
13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. 
14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 
15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 
16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

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Unless the light shining can be clearly defined as members of a local church, and the members are the only ones who can shine, I am not seeing the justification of this set of verses to defend the local church membership doctrine.

Believers are to let their light shine.  Believers in a church, believers who are members of a church, believers who are persecuted, believers that have no fellowship, believers who are all alone.  All believers are to let thier light so shine.  But show me where the verse teaches that in order for a believer to shine, they must become a member of a local church.

1 Peter 2:12

12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

Again, this verse does not defend local church membership, but simply an injunction for all believers to act honorably among those who do not believe (Gentiles).

Titus 2:14

14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

Where is the local church membership requirement here?

Might I suggest the following verse to justify local church membership?

Job 1:1

1 There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.

Job must have been a member of a local church, since he was blameless and upright – It’s right there in the verse – Can’t you see it?


In future posts, I will continue to address this topic, but from a different perspective. Having considered the defense Mr. Dever’s provided for local church membership, I will now provide additional deliberations from the New Testament that may shed additional light on the topic.

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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Local Church Membership Q&A – 6

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 Evangelize the World.


5) To Evangelize the World

Deuteronomy 4:5 – 7

5 See, I have taught you statutes and rules, as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should do them in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. 
6 Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ 
7 For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the LORD our God is to us, whenever we call upon him?

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I assume the commandment to the children of Israel in verse 6 (Keep therefore and DO THEM) is the basis of church membership, but I fear there is no justification for this connection.

The children of Israel had no idea of the concept of church membership in the way it is understood in this culture.  Moses was defining the nation of Israel as a potentially great nation and the only connection I can find with the New Covenant would be where Peter defines the entire universal Church as a holy nation (1 Peter 2:9)

Applying this verse to a local body of believers may have some application (all scripture is profitable) but to connect to church membership seems to be a strain!

Matthew 5:13 – 16

13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. 
14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 
15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 
16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

When the Lord says “Ye” in the first verse, is He defining the local church? (As far as I can tell, the disciples have yet to hear of Jesus mentioning the word “church”, little lone the modern concept of church membership!)

Is the local church the city on a hill?  How about the candle?  I tend to think Jesus is discussing something other than church membership!

Act 5:13 – 14

13 None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem.
 
14 And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women,

See the response in earlier post.

1 Peter 2:12

12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

Individual Christians are to have an honest lifestyle among the Gentiles. This is so true, and so relevant for today’s modern church.  Not for the application of church membership, but for the moral strength that the church/believer is to exercise daily in a corrupt and sinful society.

I’m just not seeing a direct relationship of local church membership with this verse.


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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Local Church Membership Q&A – 5

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 Serve and Build Others Up.


4) To Serve and Build Others Up

Mark 10:42 – 45

42 And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 
43 But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 
44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. 
45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Excellent set of verses defining the Christian life of serving one another.

My question to you is – How is it that church “membership” assists a Christian in this area of Christian serving?

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If a believer isn’t a member of a local church, is he hobbled from serving within the Body of Christ?  I am really confused at this point!  I have known of some churches that require a believer “signing on the dotted line” to give them the opportunity to teach or serve within the church, but I see that as an artificial restraint on the believer by an organization.

I once asked a pastor if he would rather have a faithful believer (but not a member) in his fellowship, or a name on the list that may not be available for service.  (I did not get a clear answer back!)

We are to serve one another.  Every opportunity should be afforded to the believer to serve the Body.

Any restriction to that service is simply a restriction.

1 Corinthians 12:4-11

4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 
5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 
6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 
7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 
8 For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 
9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 
10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 
11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

Considering that the gifts are given to “profit withal” and that this epistle was written to the Corinthians (the church in the city of Corinth) is it not possible that there were multiple groups of believers that met at different places and times of the week. (I realize this is not stated in the passages, but it definitely was the case in Rome and other cities. ) 

If so, the Word is defining the Spirits gift’s as that which is to profit all within the city, and may argue against the membership concept.

Heb 10:23 – 24

23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 

24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,

A great passage to defend the daily need for encouragement and rebuke.

How is it that membership will accomplish this end?

Is there a Biblical commandment to church members to avoid encouraging and rebuking those who may not be members of their church?  I am becoming more and more confused.


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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