The new covenant requires that we seek a regenerate church membership.
Though we cannot explicitly see the phrase “church membership” in the New Testament, we can clearly see this truth as necessarily contained in the Scripture and what it says about the New Testament church. Regenerate church membership means that those added to the church have spiritual life. Jer 31:31-34 says that in the New Covenant all should know the LORD, and His law written in their hearts.
The churches in the NT are addressed, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints (1 Cor. 1:2). Attendees are not assumed member if they attended for six months only. Duration of attendance is not evidence of spiritual life. To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus (Eph 1:1). We must seek evidence of new hearts through their confessions (Phil 1:1, Col 1:2). We do not want to accept local church members as goats into the church.
A Healthy church will practice formal membership
Formal membership is assumed in the New Testament. Rom 12:4-5 states clearly that there is one body composed of many members.
The physical bodies of the church in Corinth are members of Christ (1 Cor. 6:15), one body with many parts (1 Cor. 12:12-27), fellow heirs, members of the same body (Eph 3:6), members one of another (Eph 4:25, 5:30). These words do not refer to the people outside, they refer to the members of the church.
The church is a specific and identifiable group of people. Eph. 2:19, you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God. Though there is no explicit verse that says “church membership”, we can find identifiable members of the church. 1 Tim 3:15 speaks of the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth. 1 Pe 2:9, chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession. The words family, flock, holy nation requires membership.
NT Ethics and the “one another” assume membership. In Hebrews 10:24-25, the expressions “stir up”, “do not neglect meeting”, and “encourage one another” are without question entails membership.
Leadership is a leadership over specific sheep (Acts 20:28, Hebrews 13;17, 1 Peter 5:2). Accountable leader, submissive membership, and oversight entail definite and local church membership. There are flocks under specific local oversight that are not under the oversight of other leaders. Church membership is specific in a local church. Membership is fundamentally community accountability.
A Healthy church will practice Vital Membership
Vital membership means participating membership. Hebrews 10:25 says let us not forget meeting one another. It means that members should be active in assembling with God’s people.
Fulfilling responsibilities to each other – love one another as Christ sacrificially loves us. It is giving oneself to one another (John 13:34); serve one another, every member has a role – Gal. 5:13-14; maintaining the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph 4:1-3).
Fulfilling responsibilities to pastors – Not only that the pastors have responsibilities to the members but also the members have responsibilities to their pastors. We must treat them as servants of Christ (1 Cor 4:1); We must receive and honor them (Phil 2:29); We must respect them as laborers of Christ, esteem them in love (1 Thess. 5:12-13); We must consider them worthy of double honor (1 Tim 5:17); We must submit to them (Heb. 13:17).
Fulfilling responsibilities to the lost – working together to fulfill the Great commission, locally, and globally (Acts 1:8).
Vital church membership includes assembling with God’s people, fulfilling responsibilities to each other, to pastors, and to the lost.
Vital membership means responsible membership. It is being responsible for the admission and removal of members (Matt. 18:15-20). It is the whole church members who will accept the membership applicant and remove or excommunicate the defiant. Responsible to maintain unity: Unity is a challenge in the church since members are still sinners, yet it is secured by God’s grace (Eph. 4:3), and responsible to protect the church from doctrinal infidelity (2 Tim. 1:13).
SOLI DEO GLORIA!
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This is very good!
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