Presentation on theme: "Local Church Membership In our previous lesson, we considered the concept expressed by many these days of being “Spiritual but not Religious.” Aside from."— Presentation transcript:
Local Church Membership In our previous lesson, we considered the concept expressed by many these days of being “Spiritual but not Religious.” Aside from making suggestions about what this statement means to differing people, we also examined what has prompted this anti-religion movement. We concluded by showing that God had/has both purpose and intent for the local church- that it is to provide essential help, support, and opportunities to us as Christians (the Corinthian church assembled, communed with Christ, gave of their means, worshipped God & edified one another, had mutual concern & care, and had appointed officers for the spiritual needs & benefits of the congregation). As I indicated then, tonight we will briefly consider a few other aspects of…
Local Church Membership Some deny that there is such a thing as local church membership prescribed in the N.T. They would say that at best, “the church” was (and therefore should be) just a loose-knit bunch of Christians who, because of similar thoughts of and desires toward God, occasionally happened to show up at the same place and talk about spiritual things. Even those who wouldn’t take it that far, might believe (and practice) that local church membership is neither expected nor required to be pleasing to God. So…
Does the New Testament teach Local Church Membership? Acts 2 certainly seems to do so: Although v.41 surely indicates a universal body of believers rather than a local one, The activities of assembly and worship mentioned in v.42 were certainly being done on a local level; Also, there was evidently a very close spiritual and emotional tie, v.43, that led to providing for one another’s physical needs on a local level, vv.44-45; And there was certainly a local togetherness that included spiritual pursuits and associative physical activities, v.46. Notice specifically the language of v.47- “their number” (local) as opposed to the implied number of v.41 (universal).
Does the New Testament teach Local Church Membership? Acts 9:26 certainly seems to indicate so: Saul (Paul), shortly after his conversion, came back to Jerusalem and “was trying to associate with the disciples…” Such implies that some level of formative association existed to which he attempted to join. Additionally, the word translated as “associate” is the Greek term kollao, which comes from kallo- “glue.” It thus is defined as “to glue, to glue together, cement, fasten together; to join or fasten firmly together; to join one’s self to, cleave to” (Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon). Such does not sound like a haphazard or loose-knit group that occasionally happens to show up at the same place, does it?
Does the New Testament teach Local Church Membership? Acts 14:23 demands so: While you can have a church without Elders (if none meet the scriptural qualifications of the office), you cannot have “Elders” without a local church! The Ephesian Elders were over the local church in Ephesus, Acts 20:17,28. Additionally, 1Pet.5:2 necessarily limits the oversight of Shepherds to the local church which has appointed them. Why would God want Elders to shepherd and oversee a local flock if no such thing existed? cf. Titus 1:6ff And certainly all the letters written to local churches (1/3 of N.T. & Revelation 2-4) show God’s expectation of saints to be participating members in them!
Why does God want us to be participants in Local Church Memberships? While that’s a whole sermon (or three!) in itself, just think back over the passages we’ve already covered: Acts 2:42-47, The local church was/is God’s instrument of teaching, fellowship, communion (vv.42,46); His place for believers to bond emotionally (v.43); a tool of His to care for their physical needs (vv.44-45); and His arm of evangelism (v.47). Don’t we need to be a part of such? Acts 9:26ff, The local church lends support for the life- changing process of conversion, and continued dedication to Christ. We were created as social creatures (Gen.2:18), and therefore need peer support and encouragement. Acts 14:23, The local church provides the framework for men of understanding and wisdom to lead, direct, and protect us, Acts 20:28-35; Heb.13:17; 1Pet.5:2-3. We need guidance.
Why does God want us to be participants in Local Church Memberships? Because it helps us to remember what He’s done for us through collective worship and communion; Because it helps us to remember who we are supposed to be though collective assembly and mutual edification; and Because it helps us to remember to help others to the goal of heaven through mutual encouragement and evangelism! All of which is predicated on the local church being what it is supposed to be- but we’ll talk more about that next Sunday morning, if the Lord wills.