Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Church Membership’

Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 3-Chapter 18-The Purpose of Church Membership

CHAPTER 18-THE PURPOSE OF CHURCH MEMBERSHIP

Why join a church of Christ? What is the church of Christ for? What is its mission in the world? These are elementary questions, but they need to be asked. Let each one of us here today check and double check himself by asking this question. As I go over the list of our members, I often wonder why such and such a person ever joined the church. It is to be feared that many join the church from a motive that is entirely unscriptural, and even sinful.

Negatively:

1. Not in order to be saved. I expect this motive heads the list of wrong motives in joining the church. The lost man persists in feeling that he has a better chance of being saved if he is in the church. But the very opposite is true. Church membership is dangerous for a lost man because:

1a) It gives him a false hope.

1b) It adds to his condemnation.

2. Not for business reasons. I will not say much about this motive because I think it does not apply to many if any of our members. Our church is so unpopular with the world that I think some stay out for business reasons. What makes a church unpopular? The truth.

3. Not for social reasons. I do not think this motive is very prevalent among our members. Have you ever realized that Christianity is largely split up into social groups. True even of individual churches. Old men’s class, young men’s class, young married women’s class, young business women’s class, etc. Then there are family groups, groups according to wealth, etc.

4. Not to be petted. Some want to go where the folks are the nicest to them. The only heaven some people want or will ever have is a place where they are the center of attraction. I think I have known people who have left one church and joined another for no other reason than that their own church did not seem to give them the attention they felt they should have. Instead of assuming their obligation to help the church show its attention to visitors and strangers, they wanted to be treated like a visitor. As a member of this church, I must not expect attention to be shown me; I must help the other members show attention to visitors.

Positively:

1. To help preach the truth. “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (#1Ti 3:15). “We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellow helpers to the truth” 3 John 8. The church is a base of supplies for the truth. It is a great spiritual commissary where the bread of life is dispensed. That is my vision for this church that our ministry may be enlarged and that the truth may go from us by word of mouth, beginning right here at this pulpit and reaching every spot where we have a member, that it may go from us by our written ministry beginning here in our community and reaching to all parts of the earth.

2. To let our light shine. Every saved person has some light, spiritual light. Light and darkness: day and night, are Scriptural symbols of truth and error; good and evil. Lost people are called children of darkness; saved are called children of light and of the day. “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of the light” (#Eph 5:8); “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (#Eph 5:11).

Now a candlestick is the place for a light. “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (#Mt 5:14-16). And the spiritual candlestick for spiritual light is the church. “The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches” (#Re 1:20).

3. To evangelize the world. To evangelize means to gospelize. To gospelize is to tell good news. It is to tell the world the good news of a Savior from sin, the good news that a specific for sin has been found. If you had a friend or even an enemy who was dying with tuberculosis and you had a certain cure for that disease, wouldn’t you get the news to him in a hurry? You wouldn’t have much trouble in telling him about it, would you? Or if you saw a man starving for material food, you wouldn’t have much trouble in finding words to present him with some food, would you?

Brethren, we have a specific, a certain cure for sin and we ought to present it to lost men everywhere. It is the only thing we have that is sure. We do not have a sure cure for tuberculosis or pneumonia or smallpox or cancer. Every remedy has at some time or other failed, but we have a remedy for sin that has never failed when taken.

WHY SHOULD CHURCH MEMBERS ATTEND CHURCH?

One of the saddest things I know is the difficulty we have in getting members to attend church. The forces of antichrist point to this fact as a proof that church members themselves do not believe in their religion, not even worth their effort to attend meetings.

Why go to church?

1. Because God commands it. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (#Heb 10:25).

2. Because you cannot have a church without it. Church is an assembly. Shut the church doors, let the people stay in their homes and never get together, and you would have no church. The building does not make the church, and it is physically possible to have saved people and yet not have a church. Suppose there are 100 saved people in this community, they stay in their homes or go about their business, they have no contact with each other in a religious way, they have no fellowship in the word of God, they never meet to pray or sing or hear the word of God, would they constitute a church? No. I said it was physically possible to have saved people in a community without a church, but it is not morally possible. Love for God and for one another will bring them together. We come to church to have fellowship in word.

3. Because we need to learn. The church is a school. Believers are called disciples or learners. Christ had a school and His followers were called disciples. The pastor of the church is their teacher. “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient” (#2Ti 2:24). A church meeting is a school of spiritual instruction. From this viewpoint the churches look bad.

3a) From standpoint of attendance. We get alarmed about our day school if the attendance is much below enrollment. We expect a boy to grow up to be a sort of numbskull if he misses about half of his classes. And when he does come and the lesson is taught he doesn’t know what it is all about. He doesn’t get the lesson taught because he failed to get something else that must be learned first.

3b) From the standpoint of actual knowledge. A spiritual numbskull is a saved person who has not grown in grace and the knowledge of the truth, as it is in Christ Jesus.

C. D. Cole-Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 3

Advertisements

Question 79-Puritan Catechism

Spurgeon 3Q. What is the duty of such as are rightly baptized?

A. It is the duty of such as are rightly baptized, to give up themselves to some particular and orderly Church of Jesus Christ, (Acts 2:47; Acts 9:26; 1 Peter 2:5) that they may walk in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. (Luke 1:6)

Charles Haddon Spurgeon-A Puritan Catechism

Confession statement 44

September 18, 2013 Leave a comment

Published in 1646

The Text used: There has been some updating of Old English words but otherwise no changes have been made to the original texts.

CONFESSION OF FAITH of seven congregations or churches of Christ in London. which are commonly, but unjustly, called Anabaptists; published for the vindication of the truth and information of the ignorant; likewise for the taking off those aspersions which are frequently, both in pulpit and print, unjustly cast upon them. Printed in London, Anno 1646.

XLIV CHRIST for the keeping of this church in holy and orderly communion, placeth some special men over the church who by their office, are to govern, oversee, visit, watch; so likewise for the better keeping thereof, in all places by the members, He hath given authority, and laid duty upon all to watch over one another.

Acts 20:27.28; Heb.13:17,24; Matt.24:45; 1 Thess.5:2,14; Jude 3.20: Heb.10:34.35 [cf. 24,25], 12:15.

The First London Baptist Confession 1644/46 

Confession statement 43

September 11, 2013 Leave a comment

Published in 1646

The Text used: There has been some updating of Old English words but otherwise no changes have been made to the original texts.

CONFESSION OF FAITH of seven congregations or churches of Christ in London. which are commonly, but unjustly, called Anabaptists; published for the vindication of the truth and information of the ignorant; likewise for the taking off those aspersions which are frequently, both in pulpit and print, unjustly cast upon them. Printed in London, Anno 1646.

XLIII And every particular member of each Church how excellent, great, or learned soever, is subject to this censor and judgment; and the church ought not without great care and tenderness, with due advise, but by the rule of faith, to proceed against her members

Mat. 18:16-18; Acts 11:2, 3; 1 Tim. 5:19-21, etc.; Col.4:17; Acts 15:1,2,3.

The First London Baptist Confession 1644/46 

Infants are not to be church members just because their parents are

March 22, 2013 2 comments

broadusIt may be well to state briefly what I understand to be the leading distinctive views of the Baptist churches. The fact that certain of these are more or less shared by others will be remarked upon afterward.

2. We hold that a Christian Church ought to consist of only persons making a credible profession of conversion, of faith in Christ. These may include children, even comparatively ye children, for God be thanked that these do often give credible evidence of faith in Christ! But in the very nature of the case they cannot include infants.

The notion that infants may be church members because their parents are seems to us utterly alien to the genius of Christianity not only unsupported by the New Testament, but in conflict with its essential principles; and we are not surprised to observe that our Christian brethren among whom that theory obtains are unable to carry it out consistently; unable to decide in what sense the so-called “children of the church” are really members of the church and subject to its discipline.

The other notion, that infants may be church members because so-called “sponsors” make professions and promises for them, seems to us a mere legal fiction, devised to give some basis for a practice which rose on quite other grounds. Maintaining that none should be received as church members unless they give credible evidence of conversion, we also hold in theory that none should be retained in membership who do not lead a godly life; that if a man fails to show his faith by works, he should cease to make profession of faith. Some of our own people appear at times to forget that strict church discipline is a necessary part of the Baptist view as to church membership.

John A. Broadus-The Duty of Baptists to Teach Their Distinctive Views