The concept of formal church membership is seen in the Scriptures and is what our Lord has instructed for us to embrace as His disciples while we are on this earth. So we began a series on church membership this past Sunday.
Why are we talking about this now?
Because of important legal issues and even more important Biblical issues (as illustrated above and reflected in Romans 12:1-13 and 1 Corinthians 12:12-27).
What is church membership?
Church membership is a commitment to living out the reality of union with Christ and His body and the practical pursuit of obedience to Christ’s new commandment that ‘you love one another’ (John 13:34-35; 15:12, 17; 1 John 3:11, 23; 4:7, 11-12; 2 John 1:5) through a conscious commitment to a local body of believers in service and submission, trusting God for good through commitment to an imperfect church over time.
How does Paul argue for what we might call ‘church membership’ as a response to the gospel in Romans 12?
9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;
Love is to be real, not a ‘performance.’
Let love be without hypocrisy (9)
Hypocrisy = that which is faked, insincere, not genuine (‘acted out’)
Is my love for my church real or a performance?
Is what I do in relation to the church coming from my heart or the result of outward pressure or wrong motivations?
Love pursues what is pleasing to God.
Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. (9)
Abhor = deep hatred, horror
Cling = idea of being glued to (‘married to’)
Enoch and Noah ‘walked with God’ (Genesis 5:24; 6:9)
How do you walk with someone?
You have to go the same way they are going.
You have to avoid what they are avoiding.
You have to embrace what they are embracing.
You have to live to please them.
Is my relationship to the church an expression of my walk with God?
Is my relationship to the church an expression of my living to please God?
The pursuit of love must take place in a local expression of the family of God.
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love (10)
Devoted = special, tender affection (as in a family)
Brotherly love = love like natural love in a family
Should I be devoted to all women as if they were my wife?
Should I be devoted to my wife as I am to all other women?
Should I be devoted to all churches as much as I am to one church?
Should I be devoted to my church as much as I am to all other churches?
Love for one another is fed by an appreciation for what each one contributes to the life of the family.
give preference to one another in honor; (10)
give preference = rejoice in the good qualities of other believers
The team concept = family concept = appreciation of the role each one plays (see context of Romans 12)
Do I appreciate the roles the members of my family play?
Do I appreciate the roles the members of my church play in my life?
‘It's those stately geese I find especially impressive. Winging their way to a warmer climate, they often cover thousands of miles before reaching their destination. Have you ever studied why they fly as they do? It is fascinating to read what has been discovered about their flight pattern as well as their in-flight habits. Four come to mind.
1. Those in front rotate their leadership. When one lead goose gets tired, it changes places with one in the wing of the V-formation and another flies point. 2. By flying as they do, the members of the flock create an upward air current for one another. Each flap of the wings literally creates an uplift for the bird immediately following. One author states that by flying in a V-formation, the whole flock gets 71 percent greater flying range than if each goose flew on its own. 3. When one goose gets sick or wounded, two fall out of formation with it and follow it down to help and protect it. They stay with the struggler until it's able to fly again. 4. The geese in the rear of the formation are the ones who do the honking. I suppose it's their way of announcing that they're following and that all is well. For sure, the repeated honks encourage those in front to stay at it. As I think about all this, one lesson stands out above all others: it is the natural instinct of geese to work together. Whether it's rotating, flapping, helping, or simply honking, the flock is in it together...which enables them to accomplish what they set out to do. - Chuck Swindoll, letter, October, 1991.
For more on this, go to the sermons section of our website and find the Pastor’s Class and Worship Message from January 8, 2017.