I have just started preaching through 1 Corinthians and I am looking forward to the opportunity to see how this part of Scripture teaches us about Christ, the gospel and the nature of the Lord’s church. One of the things we will see clearly is the Bible’s teaching on local church membership. Church membership is how God wants Christians to live out our lives here.
The New Testament church knew who was “in” and they knew who was “out” (Col. 4:5; 1 John 2:19). There were certain people marked out by the church “who belonged to the church” (Acts 12:1) and the rest did not. In other words, the New Testament church had an identifiable membership. It was identifiable, not just to God, but to the real flesh and blood people in the church.
This church membership was worked out in different tangible ways. It was worked out in their commitment to love each other and to maintain accountability to each other. If a person merely wandered in and out of the life and meetings of Christian congregations, can they say they have a biblical commitment to show “the same care” for each member of the body to the point that if “one member suffers, all suffer together” (1 Cor. 11:26)? If a person keeps the church at arm’s length in terms of real accountability, can they say they are humbly identifying with the church in the kind of accountable helping relationships that God requires (Col. 3:16; 1 Cor. 5:12-13; Heb. 13:17)?
It could not be better timing for this eJournal from 9 Marks to come out: Church Membership: Holding the Body Together. The articles here address many of the common questions that come up about body life in the church and why it is biblically necessary for Christians to identify with, and become accountable to, a particular local church. May God bless you in the kind of relationships that He designed for your spiritual good.