Summary: The Biblical church membership.
Acts 2: 41-42
November 25, 2007 SUN p.m.
As we look back to the beginning of the New Testament Church we find that after Peter’s sermon at Pentecost about 3,000 were added to the disciples, of whom there were about 120.
They that gladly received his word were baptized." These converts proved the genuine nature of their repentance and faith first by obedience to the Lord’s command of baptism, and then by steadfast continuation in four basic areas of the Christian life: 1) doctrine 2) fellowship 3) breaking of bread 4) prayers
These features might be regarded as the ordinary activities by which church member-ship is sustained. Steadfast continuation in right doctrine, spiritual fellowship, attending the Lord’s table, and the prayer meetings should be regarded as normal and binding upon every church member.
This is not only supported by the example of the early Christians but by the exhortations of the apostles (Heb. 10: 24, 25) and elsewhere in the New Testament (Acts 20: 16-32; Rev. 2 and 3; Eph. 4: 1-16).
I- CONCEPT OF CHURCH MEMBERSHIP
The concept of church membership is important and scriptural. The Lord was conferring authority upon His apostles, indicating that discipline in the church would have to be maintained when He rendered in Matthew 16:19 the words “the keys of the kingdom”. Keys are used to shut out and to close in.
The apostles and their evangelists such as Timothy and Titus used God- given authority to appoint bishops (or pastors) in the churches. Instructions as to the qualifications of bishops are provided. Their authority is clearly given—Titus 3; Titus 2. Believers or church members are exhorted to obey and submit themselves to their Pastor–Hebrews 13:17.
Now it is obvious that we cannot obey pastors unless they are identified, nor can pastors rule unless there are specific people for whom they are responsible. People who were added to the church were identifiable individuals—Acts 2:47.
The pastors are responsible for those who are clearly joined to the church. On the other hand, all the members of a church are involved in the calling of a pastor and in the appointment of deacons.
Paul addresses the believers in Philippi. This passage pictures the validity of church membership where it includes all that are in the local church namely: the Pastor and deacons with the church members—Philippians 1:1
II. CONSEQUENCES OF DISOBEDIENT CHURCH MEMBERS
Those church members who cut themselves off from involvement and fellowship are spiritually sick or stunted in their spiritual growth.
God provide a formula for the believer’s growth.—Ephesians 4:11-12
Without church membership the believer fails to progress in grace and knowledge. It is through the local church that the individual members develop in understanding, exercise their gifts, give, receive, and share spiritual life. There will be a believer’s stunted spiritual growth without church membership.
Anyone can attend church but attendance is not membership. Anyone can tithes and give for faith promise missions but membership is more than giving. Not all church members do all what they should but that is no excuse for not becoming a church member.
III. CONSISTENCY OF AN ACTIVE MEMBERSHIP
How can we maintain our membership to be active?
A. Continue steadfastly in the Apostles’ Doctrine.—Acts 2:42
Ecumenical movements have attempted to destroy the order—Acts 2: 42. Notice that doctrine is much important and placed before fellowship. They err in that fellowship is placed before doctrine. Let all things be done in order. Doctrine is important but not to those who declared that
we should love one another and unite despite of differences in beliefs. We become a Christian by believing the TRUTH. Many seek to unite a large assortment of denomination; who deny fundamental doctrines of salvation by grace through faith and reject the supreme authority of Holy Scriptures. Essential and doctrines such as the wrath and justice of God and the substitutionary blood-atonement of Christ, the virgin birth of Christ, the inspiration of the Scriptures are omitted.
B. Continue steadfastly in Fellowship—Acts 2:42.
The word “fellowship” in Greek here means communion, or having things in common.
You do not have to be a Christian to have fellowship with others. Unbelievers gather and joined each other whether by association or organization. On the other hand, Christian’s fellowship is an entirely different kind. It includes sharing spiritual life, we receive the joy imparted by the Holy Ghost, we worship with praising and edifying activities, we share God exalting testimonies that strengthen the faith of others.
Above all, Christian fellowship is a blessing because of the presence of Jesus Christ who said, "where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them"
C. Continue steadfastly in the Breaking of Bread—Acts 2:42.
All church members must be present at the Lord’s Supper. Here, attendance is desired. There is the visible act of communion and union together of the believers.