Sunday, May 1, 2011

Local Church Membership

Question Received:
My huband and I have a Bible study twice a month. He does not attend church regularly is this wrong, should we continue?

My Answer:

It is great you and your husband are serious about God's Word in a regular Bible study. I feel you both have a responsibility to pursue the Lord.

Is this a substitute for a church?
Simple answer-NO!

Here are a vast number of reasons people are not in church in America- they are not Christians and desire not to become one, they are sick and or elderly and can not travel, they grew up not going, their family never went, they are divorced, they were hurt by a local church or somebody in the church, they used to go but found it meaningless, they are burned out of programs, they are living a sinful lifestyle and refuse to depart from it, they were disciplined and excommunicated from a local church. Also some in para church ministries like Young Life, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Campus Crusade for Christ are so busy they forsake fellowship with a local church.

The great evangelist Billy Graham traveled the world and had church membership tough he could rarely attend. As Graham has retired from public ministry and is elderly and in failing health and can not physically attend, he has membership in a local church. He sees the necessity and responsibility to do so. He appreciated the accountability, love, support and fellowship, discipline and community of the local church family.

What does the church do- Worship, Edification (Discipleship) with ministries and missions and Evangelism. That's what the church does. We are to do this things as redeemed people. We are accountable for our actions. We have accountability and responsibility. We have proper doctrine maintained and protected and have leadership and discipline in the church, when we are about church business. Just as a person that isolates themselves from society will have problems develop from isolation, the unattached Christian will develop problems and needs they can not fulfill as an individual.

Other reasons for not being a part of a local congregation could be location or not being near a church with doctrinal beliefs you accept. If that is the case I think it would not be hard to find a church or denomination to help you be a part of establishing a local fellowship in an unreached area in America or in many foreign countries.

The single reason you should go to church or rather why join a local congregation? Because you are a professing Christian. You know Christ died to pay for the penalty of your sins to appease the wrath of God that will be poured out one day on sinners. You know Christ was fully man and is fully God. If you have heard the gospel, repented or turned away from your sins, and received forgiveness of sins, peace with God and eternal life, why would you not be in church? Why would you miss true biblical worship with believers? Why would you not want to be edified (Being built up in the Lord with friends of the faith in education, ministries and missions)? Why would you not want to participate in evangelism to share humanities only hope in Jesus Christ with family,friends and people you know and people you will never meet by sharing with organized mission opportunities by giving?

Who is church for? Believers of course. we are trained there to minister to the unsaved. This is surprisingly controversial as today many churches seek to accommodated unbelievers by weakening biblical worship. The church builds us up to evangelize. How can the unconverted worship a God they do not know? We must maintain our standards of right biblical worship. Yes, invite unbelievers. They can come and see the wonder of true biblical worship. They can witness devotion and historic worship of singing, hearing the scripture, saying the scripture, hearing the prayers and praise, the spoken prophetic word, seeing the scripture modeled in Baptism and the Lord's Supper.

Here are some scriptures that should convince you to become a part of the fellowship of the local church.

Jesus believed in and participated in worship on the Sabbath. Any counter to this?
Luke 4:16 NASB "And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He enteredthe synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read."

The first generation of Christians, those who knew and saw Christ in His day, taught local church worship to be done now until His return.
Hebrews 10:25 NASB "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching."

You will suffer a s a "Lone Ranger" Christian out of local church fellowship. Respect that God established leaders who teach and maintain and share the true gospel and oversee the care of your soul.
Hebrews 13:7 "NASB Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith."

Historically their is a caring of souls and fellowship by Godly established church leaders. Organization and church discipline is a biblical standard.
Hebrews 13:17 NASB "Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch overyour souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you."

Their is an established way to deal with problems that will happen in church Problems happen because people make up the church. If we pattern our churches after the New Testament model conflict can be graciously yet firmly dealt with.
Matthew 15:17-18 NASB 15 "If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private ; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16 "But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. 17 "If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church ; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector."

If you are not a Christian I urge you to receive the Good News, the gospel, that Christ died to pay for your sins, repent, confess that Jesus Christ is LORD.
You will be a citizen of Heaven and part of the universal church.

If you are a Christian, yes, join a fellowship and be an active part of the local church.

You must know what a church believes. Ask for a statement of faith from any church you attend. This is the day of hip church names like The Torch, the Wind, The Breeze, The Bridge, The Oasis, The Springs, The Summit, The Filling Station, The Connection, The Way. Sometimes they sound like night clubs. It does not matter about clothes and tradition or music styles. Find a Bible believing church that believes in biblical worship, edification also known as discipleship who does ministries and missions and participates in evangelism.

Serve your King. Join in with the Kingdom work. Join a Bible believing Christian Church.

I still believe you will benefit from joining a local Southern Baptist Church.
Though no church is perfect I feel the intent and actions are on the right course. The theology is consistent and can straighten out small or major problems that can occur in a church. Here is a part of a concise statement of belief, from the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message, The Church Article VI with more biblical support. I support the autonomy of the local church to structure church government as they feel led under Scripture. I do feel it is essential and on biblical grounds to have a lead Pastor in charge of the local church, under the Headship of Christ, preaching and ministering and leading as chief servant leader with Deacons who are servant leaders who support the ministries of the church and to assist the pastor to multiply the churches work.

From The Baptist Faith and Message 2000

The Church
Article VI
A New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is an autonomous local
congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the
gospel; observing the two ordinances of Christ, governed by His laws, exercising the gifts,
rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word, and seeking to extend the gospel to the
ends of the earth. Each congregation operates under the Lordship of Christ through
democratic processes. In such a congregation each member is responsible and accountable to
Christ as Lord. Its scriptural officers are pastors and deacons. While both men and women
are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by
The New Testament speaks also of the church as the Body of Christ which includes
all of the redeemed of all the ages, believers from every tribe, and tongue, and people, and
Matthew 16:15-19; 18:15-20; Acts 2:41-42,47; 5:11-14; 6:3-6; 13:1-3; 14:23,27; 15:1-
30; 16:5; 20:28; Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 3:16; 5:4-5; 7:17; 9:13-14; 12;
Ephesians 1:22-23; 2:19-22; 3:8-11,21; 5:22-32; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:18; 1
Timothy 2:9-14; 3:1-15; 4:14; Hebrews 11:39-40; 1 Peter 5:1-4; Revelation 2-3; 21:2-
Key Text:
Matthew 16:15-19: ―He said to them, ―But who do you say that I am?‖ Simon Peter
answered and said, ―You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.‖ Jesus answered and
said to him, ―Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this
to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on
this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I
will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be
bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

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