Becoming a Part of Our Church

Faith Church December 31, 1998

Introduction to Faith
Lesson
1

Becoming a Part of Our Church
In Ephesians 1:3, the apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesian Christians and said, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.”  A key word that stands out in this verse is the word “blessed.”  Churches that seek to please God and follow His Word can expect and enjoy His blessing.
One of the ways God regularly blesses Faith Baptist Church is with new people.  Almost weekly God brings new visitors to our church.  We do not view these dear folks simply as numbers or statistics, because that is not what they are to God.  Instead, they are people, human beings, souls.  Therefore, we choose to view each person God brings through the doors of our church as one of God’s potential blessings to us.
A second way God has blessed us is by giving us a Bible that is sufficient.  In His Word He “has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3).  The Bible gives our church direction about how new people can become part of our church.  We are very thankful that we don’t have to “make it up as we go along.”  Instead, it is our task and our privilege to study what God’s Word says about church membership, and then faithfully follow those principles as we add new “blessings” to our church family.
List 2-3 principles from the preceding paragraphs that are especially noteworthy.  What key ideas do we need to keep in mind as we embark on this study?


In our study today, we will concentrate on The Importance of Church Membership, The Blessing of Church Membership, and The Requirements of Church Membership.


I.  THE IMPORTANCE OF CHURCH MEMBERSHIP


Before moving into a discussion of the actual steps to church membership, it might be helpful to some folks to study why the church itself is important.  There are many organizations seeking our time and commitment.  Why should anyone consider the church, and membership in a church, to be important?
A.  It is important because it was important to Jesus Christ.
Please read Matthew 16:13-23.
1.  What question did Jesus pose to His disciples (v.13)?
 
 
2.  How did Peter answer (v. 16), and what did Jesus think about His answer (v. 17)?
 
 
3.  Jesus makes reference to Peter’s confession in verse 18 when he says “upon this rock” (i.e. the profession Peter just made (v. 16), that Jesus was “the Christ, the Son of the Living God”).  What did Jesus say He would build upon this rock?

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4.  What does this tell us about the importance of the church to our Lord, and how should this affect the way we view the church?
 
5.  What was Jesus’ view of anyone who wanted the church to be built without Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection (vv. 21-23)?
 
Please read Acts 1:6-8, 2:1-4, 41.
6.  What did Jesus Christ tell His disciples before He ascended into heaven (1:8)?
 
7.  On what day was this promise fulfilled (2:1-4)?
8.  What was the process by which men and women were added to the church (2:41)?
 
 
9.  From these verses, would you conclude that the church had an important place in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ?  _________  Why or why not?  
 
How would you respond to a person who said, “I love Jesus Christ, but I have no place in my life for the church?”  
 
B.  It is important because of the place the church is given in the New Testament.
As one reads the New Testament, he is struck by the prominent place the church is given.  Our Lord is clearly carrying out His plan and program today through the ministry of local churches.
In his book, The Doctrine and Administration of the Church, Dr. Paul R. Jackson has written:
God never changes (Malachi 3:6; James 1:17), although His dealings with men have changed during the ages.  From Abraham to Christ, His relationship with men centered in the nation of Israel.  Since Christ, His ministry has been through the Church.  Israel, as a nation, has been set aside until the Church is raptured (Romans 11:25).  For fifteen hundred years before Christ, the law given through Moses was in force.  Since Christ, the Scriptures declare that we are not under law but under grace (Romans 6:14; see also John 1:17).
This does not mean there are two ways of salvation.  God has never saved men by works in any age.  Faith in Him has been the universal qualification.  Shed blood has been the unvarying requirement.  Before Christ, animal sacrifices were offered at the command of God.  Sin was thereby acknowledged and covered (Leviticus 17:11; Hebrews 10:1-4).  Then Christ came and died for our sins.  He died for the sins that were past (Romans 3:25) and redeemed those who were under the law (Galatians 4:4, 5).
So while God does not change and salvation has always been by faith in Him, God did an entirely new thing when He established the Church.  The distinctions between law and grace, Israel and the Church, must be clearly discerned if the Word of God is to be understood.
The Scripture also distinguishes between the Church which is the Body of Christ (Ephesians 1:22, 23) and local churches.  The local church is the current practical manifestation of the Body of Christ.  The local church is the major emphasis of the New Testament.  The Greek word ekklesia, translated church, is applied to the local churches some ninety times, and to the Church which is His Body about twenty times.
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Sometimes referred to as the universal or the invisible Church, the Church which is His body is a blessed fact, emphasizing the unity of God’s people in this age.  It includes all the redeemed, whether Jews or Gentiles, from Pentecost to the Rapture, whether in Heaven or on earth.  It never meets during this age.  It makes no decisions, exercises no discipline, administers no ordinances and preaches no gospel.  It is awaiting completion when it will finally be gathered in Glory as “the general assembly and church of the firstborn . . .” (Hebrews 12:23).
The local New Testament church is often dishonored by referring to the Church which is His Body as “the true church,” thus inferring that a local church is not a true church.  It is a true church if established according to the Word of God.  The terminology which refers to the Body as an organism and the local church as an organization needs to be used carefully lest the false inference be given that the organization is man-made and unimportant.
If these distinctions are clearly seen so that the local church is not robbed of its significant position, the truth concerning the Church which is His Body encourages and comforts.
1.  Many of the New Testament epistles are addressed to local churches.
Please read Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:2.
For additional study:  Read 1 Corinthians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:1-2;
1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1.
What are some of the ways Paul describes the men and women to whom he is writing these New Testament letters?

2.  Some of the other New Testament epistles are written to leaders of local churches.
Both Timothy and Titus served as pastors in a local church.  Paul was writing to them to let them know how God wanted the church to function  (1 Timothy 1:2; Titus 1:4).
3.  Even the book of Revelation is addressed to local churches.
Please read Revelation 1:4, 11.
To what seven churches is the Book of Revelation written?

4.  What are the implications of these truths to men and women today?


C.  It is important because of the way the church is described in God’s Word.
1.  A _____________ of which Christ is Head.  (Colossians 1:18a)
2.  A _____________ of which Christ is the Cornerstone.  (Ephesians 2:20, 21)
3.  A _____________ of whom Christ is the Bridegroom.  (Ephesians 5:23-32)
4.  A _____________ of whom Christ is the Owner.  (Titus 2:14)
5.  A _____________ of which Christ is the Shepherd.  (1 Peter 5:2-4)
6.  A ________ ___________ of which Christ is the Creator.  (Ephesians 2:15)
7.  A ________ ___________ of which Christ is the High Priest.  (1 Peter 2:9)
8.  An ____________ of which  Christ is the Heir.  (Ephesians 1:18  )
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D.  It is important because of the way New Testament churches kept organized membership rolls.
1.  The numbers were known (Acts 1:15, 2:41, 4:4).
2.  Special rolls were kept (1 Timothy 5:9).
3.  Election of officers assumes a roll (Acts 6:2-5).
4.  Church discipline assumes a roll (1 Corinthians 5:13).
      Dr. J. Alva McClain, long-time professor at Grace Theological Seminary in Winona Lake wrote:  “The necessity of membership in the local church is never questioned in the New Testament.  It is taken for granted.  Had we asked the believers of the Apostolic period whether it was essential to join a church, they would not have known what we were talking about.  Every believer became a member of a church.  It was involved in the very profession he made in Christ.”
     What question(s) should each person who studies this Biblical material be asking himself?

II.  THE BENEFITS OF CHURCH MEMBERSHIP


[Note:  This subject will be developed more fully in Lesson 2 of this series.]
Please read John 13:34, 35.
1.  The church is a place where you can __________ others and be _______________ by others.
Many times the world in which we live is a harsh, cruel place.  But in Christ’s church, the key principle must be love for one another.
2.  List several practical ways you could show love to another person in our church.
 
 
Please read Colossians 1:28 and 2 Timothy 3:16, 17.
3.  The church is a place where you can ______________ the Word of God.
4.  Describe the habits of a person who truly wants to learn the Word of God.
 
Please read Ephesians 5:19-21.
For additional study:  Read Psalm 40:3.
5.  The church is a place where you can worship God with other believers and _________ spiritual songs together.
Please read 1 Corinthians 12:4-8.
6.  The church is a place where you can use your spiritual _________ to serve God and others.
7.  List several ways a person could use his/her spiritual gifts in the local church today.
 
 

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III.  THE REQUIREMENTS OF CHURCH MEMBERSHIP


In the introduction to our study, we said that God has blessed us by giving us a Bible that is totally sufficient.  When it comes to the matter of requirements for church membership, God’s Word clearly outlines two.
Please re-read Acts 2:41.
A.  Salvation
1.  How does Ephesians 2:8-9 state that an individual is and is not saved?
 
The term "grace" implies that God is giving something to us that we do not deserve (Heaven, righteousness, eternal life, etc.).  In Titus 3:5, the term "mercy" is used which means God withholding something from us which we do deserve (Hell, condemnation, eternal punishment).  Because we are all born sinners (Romans 3:23), we deserve death (Romans 6:23).  However, God in His "graciousness" provided a way of salvation.
2.  As we have seen in Ephesians 2:8-9, salvation is by "grace through faith."  Now, all people have a certain amount of "faith" in something/somebody/some being.   However, depends upon faith in a specific object.
According to Acts 16:31, what is the object of the faith that saves?  _________________________
3.  Can faith in anything else save an individual (Acts 4:12)?  __________________
4.  "Faith" is not merely intellectual assent.  However, it does involve knowing and believing  that the facts about the person and work of Christ are TRUE.   What "facts" are mentioned in the following verses?
• 1 John 5:1:  
• 1 John 4:2:
• Romans 10:9:  
• 1 Corinthians 15:1-5:  
5.  Faith is not simply believing that these "facts" are true.  Evil demons know the facts about Jesus (James 2:19).   Biblical faith involves the additional aspect of  personal trust or dependence upon these truths for your salvation from sin.
How does John 1:12 state this?  "But as many as _____________________ Him . . .”
This word has the meaning "take hold of" or "grasp."  Thus, one must "grasp" or "take  hold" of  Him (Christ) as one's own personal Savior.
What phrases in the apostle Paul's testimony in 2 Timothy 1:12 indicate that he did this?


6.  Summary:  Thus Biblical faith that results in salvation must include the following elements:
Knowledge of the facts about Christ and His redemptive work,
Belief that these facts are true, and
Trust in these truths for your personal salvation.

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7.  According to Mark 1:15, what two ingredients are necessary in salvation?  ____________ and
______________
8.  Repentance is NOT merely feeling “sorry” or “remorseful” over your sin.  For example, Judas felt remorse over the betrayal of Christ (Matthew 27:3), but he did not truly repent.
True repentance literally means a “change of mind” with reference to sin and God which produces a change in action.  What phrase in 1 Thessalonians 1:9 describes true repentance on the part of the Thessalonian believers?  
 
9.  Faith and repentance are two sides of the same coin of salvation.
B.  Baptism by immersion after salvation.
Please read Matthew 28:19, 20.
1.  What are Christ’s four commands in Matthew 28:19, 20?
a.   
b.  
c.   
d.  
2.  Baptism is not necessary for salvation.  Salvation cannot be of human merit, for it is a work of God, not of man.  Please read the following verses, and note how we are saved.
a.  Ephesians 2:8, 9:  
 
b.  Titus 3:5:  
 
Please read Romans 6:3-6.
3.  Baptism is not a ritual; it is an identification with Jesus Christ.   Baptism is an outward expression of your inward faith in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection; it is a reminder that you are dead to sin and arisen to walk in newness of life.
4.  Which mode of baptism fits the thought of the following passages:  sprinkling, pouring, or immersion?
a.  John 3:23:  
b.  Acts 8:36-39:  
c.  Romans 6:4, 5:  
e.  Colossians 2:12:

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