Tradition and the Calf Path

calf-path

One more time where I find a poem in my travels that teaches more than I expected.  I hope you enjoy.


by Sam Walter Foss

Tradition and the Calf Path

One day, through the primeval wood,
A calf walked home, as good calves should;
But made a trail all bent askew,
A crooked trail, as all calves do.

Since then three hundred years have fled,
And, I infer, the calf is dead.
But still he left behind his trail,
And thereby hangs my moral tale.

The trail was taken up next day
By a lone dog that passed that way;
And then a wise bellwether sheep
Pursued the trail o’er vale and steep,
And drew the flock behind him, too,
As good bellwethers always do.

And from that day, o’er hill and glade,
Through those old woods a path was made,
And many men wound in and out,
And dodged and turned and bent about,
And uttered words of righteous wrath
Because ’twas such a crooked path;
But still they followed — do not laugh —
The first migrations of that calf,
And through this winding wood-way stalked
Because he wobbled when he walked.

This forest path became a lane,
That bent, and turned, and turned again.
This crooked lane became a road,
Where many a poor horse with his load
Toiled on beneath the burning sun,
And traveled some three miles in one.
And thus a century and a half
They trod the footsteps of that calf.

The years passed on in swiftness fleet.
The road became a village street,
And this, before men were aware,
A city’s crowded thoroughfare,
And soon the central street was this
Of a renowned metropolis;
And men two centuries and a half
Trod in the footsteps of that calf.

Each day a hundred thousand rout
Followed that zigzag calf about,
And o’er his crooked journey went
The traffic of a continent.
A hundred thousand men were led
By one calf near three centuries dead.
They follow still his crooked way,
And lose one hundred years a day,
For thus such reverence is lent
To well-established precedent.

A moral lesson this might teach
Were I ordained and called to preach;
For men are prone to go it blind
Along the calf-paths of the mind,
And work away from sun to sun
To do what other men have done.
They follow in the beaten track,
And out and in, and forth and back,
And still their devious course pursue,
To keep the path that others do.

They keep the path a sacred groove,
Along which all their lives they move;
But how the wise old wood-gods laugh,
Who saw the first primeval calf!
Ah, many things this tale might teach —
But I am not ordained to preach.

The following is the core of the matter.

A hundred thousand men were led
By one calf near three centuries dead.
They follow still his crooked way,
And lose one hundred years a day,
For thus such reverence is lent
To well-established precedent.


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Our Modern Way of Meeting

I found this a few years ago, written by a guy named Rusty Entrekin. I think it catches some of the differences we experience in church life that the first century believer may be surprised by.

Our Modern Way Of Meeting

preacher

How is it then, brethren?

When ye come together, the pastor hath a doctrine, and the minister of music hath psalms.

Let all things be done unto worship.

If anyone besides the pastor hath a doctrine, let him not speak; let him hold his peace.

Let him sit in the pew, and face the back of the neck of the person which sitteth ahead of him.

Complete-church-midnight-mass

Let the people keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith church tradition.

But if they will learn anything, let them ask their pastor after the service, for it is a shame for a layman to speak in the church.

For the pastor, he hath a seminary degree, and the layman, he hath not so lofty a degree.

If any man desire to remain a church member in good standing, let him acknowledge that what I write to you is the command of the denominational headquarters.

But if any man ignore this, he shall be promptly escorted out the door by the ushers.

Wherefore brothers, covet not to speak in the church.

Let all things be done decently and in the order in which it hath been written in the church bulletin.


Hey – I created a poll for your opinions on this post.  Meet me over at “Our Modern Way of Meeting” Poll to let me know what you think.

 

Thanks, and hope to visit with you soon.


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Local Church Membership Q&A – 20 – Epilogue

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.

Since my discussion with Cody, I tripped over a blog that discusses the dangers of signing a church covenant, a very fitting epilogue to our discussion on membership

Take a few minutes to visit Istoria Ministries Blog.


This is our final post on this instance of local church membership.  If you have followed the posts through to this one, I would love to hear from you.  Please drop me a line.  As always, 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 – 19

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 – As I watched you lead the study the other night, I saw a young man who wants to follow the Lord and disciple those he has a chance to. I would challenge you to consider what you are teaching, that is, that you focus on the Word of God and not some man’s teaching about the Word of God. (We spent less than 10 minutes reading the Word that night and the remaining time referring to a booklet.)

In my own studies recently, I have been in Mark 7. In that chapter, the Lord rebukes the religious leaders of the nation. I have to ask myself – How is the requirement for a believer to enter in to church membership any different than the Pharisees requirement for the disciples to wash their hands prior to eating. Both teachings are obviously constructed out of good intentions to protect the “layman”, but the Lord didn’t seem to accept this teaching.

Mark 7:1-13

1 Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem,
2 they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed.
3 (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands, holding to the tradition of the elders,
4 and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.)
5 And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?”
6 And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me;
7 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’
8 You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”
9 And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!
10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’
11 But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”‘ (that is, given to God)–
12 then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother,
13 thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”

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Jesus referred to the Word of God in His defense for the disciples. As a proponent of church membership, I would ask you to do the same. Either refer to the Word of God for your teaching, or admit that your teaching considers the Word of God to be insufficient for the needs of this time.


If you have followed the posts through to this one, I would love to hear from you. Please drop me a line. As always, 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 – 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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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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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.

Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com

Local Church Membership Q&A – 3

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  Grow in Grace.


2) To Grow in Grace

 Hebrews 6:1 – 3

1 Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 
2 and of instruction about washings,the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 
3 And this we will do if God permits.

I am confused.

Where is church membership defined in this verse? 

Please do not get the idea that I am against being involved with a community of believers.  I relish it, love it and enjoy the opportunity to discuss the Lord Jesus with friends at work, in my home, anywhere I can.  (I would love to visit with you at your convenience and chat of the Lord’s work in our lives.  Let me know if this is possible.)  But I am still not sure where the formal membership concept is introduced to me in this passage of scripture.  This passage is a stern rebuke to the submit-to-authority-728x500believers who were being tempted to go back to a dead religion. (I can identify with these dear folk!)  But the Word says we are to go on to perfection.  Is church membership, in the formal definition within our church culture, a necessary component of attaining perfection before our Savior?  If so, where does this passage teach this?

Ephesians 4:11-16

11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 
12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 
13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,
 
14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 
15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 
16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Becoming a member of a local church is the topic Mr Devers is addressing. But Paul is discussing the unity of the saints in this passage.  If I were to “join” your church, would you then tell me that I would not be able to join any other local body of believers in the same way?

Is that fostering an attitude of unity amongst the brethren?


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.

Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com