And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (Rom 5:3-6)

Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord GOD of hosts; let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel. (Psalm 69:6)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Why Join a Church

We live in a world where many will call Sunday the fun day, a day of doing what thou wilt. It is for relaxing, fishing, and sleeping in.  However, in many parts of the world, people will literally risk their lives to assemble with other believers to worship God.

Where the subject of church membership ought to be a series covering its history, polity, unity, and worship, today we look to overview and answer the basic question, “Why should I join a church?”

The book of Acts gives us the history of the church.  The letters and gospels were written for the church to make disciples.  Thus no one scripture holds the key for the church, for all of scripture is relevant.  One scripture however has much for us to grasp, Ephesians 5:22-32

Much of joining church has to do with covenant and commitment unto God. (Often it is harder to join a country club, and groups such a the rotary club have strict rules of participation that are not forsaken)

            I do say commitment. Often in our individualistic society, commitments are made as they relate to the self.  Many things a person chooses to do are noble, but outside of Christ, they ultimately show a commitment to self-interests, even family. Church membership is a commitment to Christ, and thus His work through the church.

Let me sidestep for a moment: to not be a member puts you into two categories that I find in the New Testament, either unregenerate, that is unsaved, or in the category of being a believer under church discipline.  Neither position is exhibiting the proper relationship with God that Christ died on the cross to provide.

Thus, to be a Christian, I believe, is a positive step in a devoted commitment to God and the work that He does through His church.  This person values the cross, and thus makes a commitment….

To the faith- (A mental commitment)
·         That you see a value in the scriptural references of the existent church that you not forsake the assembling of the believers; loving the body.
·         Being part of a church is a public demonstration of your priorities in a culture of many gods.  You choose to be separate from the world and to congregate amongst believers.  You publically demonstrate that there is a positive value to church membership, that has an overarching benefit over and above all other opportunities.
Here we have the acquiescence of faith, which you agree with the scriptures.

But there is more to it As a warning, remember, church membership is more than mental agreement, for even the demons believe and they shudder. (James 2:19)

To commitment, yes, commitment to commitment, you subject yourself to accountability and responsibility. (A commitment of action)

Mark Dever, in his book Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, writes,
“Church membership is our opportunity to grasp hold of each other in responsibility and love. By identifying ourselves with a particular church, we let the pastors and other members of that local church know that we intend to be committed in attendance, giving, prayer, and service. We allow fellow believers to have great expectations of us in these areas, and we make it known that we are the responsibility of this local church. We assure the church of our commitment to Christ in serving with them, and we call for their commitment to serve and encourage as well.”

There strength in unity and loyalty.  If you want to know the power of God, who works through His people, a commitment to the church is a positive step.  Such a step addresses…..

·         Moraly- that you do want a brother’s keeper and elders to help guard you from sin. You choose to live by certain God honoring standards.
·         Service- that the local church is a mission team cooperating together for the greater good.  You participate knowing that two are stronger than one.
·         Financially- that the tithe is part of your worship through carrying on the ministry of the church.  Locally, nationally, globally.  Widow’s mite is an example of commitment.

The commitment to commitment is that practical application take place through your life.  In these ways, the scriptures are more than a mental ascent; they are an action that follows belief.

But there is more to it As a warning, lest we stop her, Mt 7 tells us of those who served and yet in the last day heard “Depart from Me, I never knew you.”  You see, Christians have a love component to their commitment also.

Ultimately you join a church as a response to God, for what He has done in your life
To God- you obey by loving the brethren.  (Here is heart commitment)  You obey God by being a disciple that is studying to show thyself approved, and worshipping with others who greet in Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.
Here is the motivation of the believer, we may believe, we may act, but true believers are those who are motivated by a love fore God, and for the brethren.  This love comes together in a demonstration of belief, through action, by a motivation of worship.

Those who have been forgiven much love much, (Luke 7)

Question:  Can you be a believer and not go to church? Yes but such a life will bear little fruit,  Fruit bearing believers strive for the sanctification process and love the unity of the saints.

Church membership is a commitment of responsibility that “draws a line of separation” from being just like the world as opposed to being a follower of Christ.

Two images of our commitment are Baptism and the Lord’s supper.  Both of these show a uniting with God and fellow believers.

For further reflection and thought:

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