Mark Dever, in his book "Nine Marks Of A Healthy Church", outlines the key factors in biblical discipleship and growth. Today, continuing from part 5, we'll continue our examination of what a biblical understanding of church membership actually is.
6. Biblical Understanding of Church Membership (Continued)
In addressing this issue it is necessary to answer these three questions:
1. What is a true church?
2. Why should we join a church?
3. What things does church membership call us to do?
Having answered question one in my previous post we will now examine questions two and three.
2. Why should we join a church?
A - We join a church for assurance. It is only in community with our brothers and sisters in Christ that we have a true test as to the authenticity of our Christianity:
If anyone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. (1 John 4:20)
B - We join a church to evangelize. who are we going to be accountable to for the purity of the Gospel we preach. We need to be extremely careful to get the Gospel right:
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:8-9)
C - We join a church to expose false gospels. Experts in forgery of money spend most of their time studying real money. Because when you know the real thing – the false one is obvious. Joining together in community with other believers demonstrates real Christianity and shows the world the big difference between a real visible church and a false one.
D - We join a church to help build up that church – joining a church teaches us our need to work together as a body and exposes our selfishness.
E - We join a church to glorify God:
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. (1Peter 2:12)
And what good work that glorifies God did Jesus command :
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. (John 13:34)
3. How should we become members of a church?
A - We should become members through baptism – baptism is the first step in the Bible for a new convert. It is an outward public profession of the supernatural inner work of the Holy Spirit. Jesus warned against hiding our Christianity and baptism was a bold public statement – especially in cultures that persecute Christians. And no – I'm not saying to get baptized every time you join a new church, I'm saying to get baptized every time you become a new creature – ONCE!
B - Signing a doctrine statement and church covenant – This is very important and rarely done. Doctrine statements call us to a standard of holy living, they allow members to be disciplined in accordance with the doctrine statement they submit to, they hold preachers accountable to the members, and they give a clear boundary between the things worth fighting for and the things we can overlook. Please study our confession.
Shakespeare once said that ”something is rotten in the State of Denmark” and he was right. Denmark needs to see what a true visible church looks like. Our prayer is that Kristuskirken (our church plant) can be the solution to that problem.
Part 7 will continue this series and cover the subject of a biblical understanding of church discipline.
Go On To Part 7
Go Back To Part 5
Go Back To Part 1
Transcript: The Briefing 12-17-14
8 hours ago