Forsaking The Assembly

33/365 days of blogging ( I will get caught up on the last two days tomorrow….I promise!)

The bible tells us in Hebrew 10:12 “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”

It also tells us in Ephesians 4:16 “From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”

I have heard people say to me “I don’t need to go to church to worship God”, or “Why do I have to become a member of a church?  As long as I attend church it shouldn’t matter.”

The reality of it is that the Bible doesn’t say anything about becoming a member of a church but there are certain things that are expected of the “Household of God.”  And there are a number of key differences between the simply committed people and the actual church member:

Members have the right to vote at church meetings. This is possibly not the most exciting thing you’ve ever been able to do, but it does allow you to have a say in what the church does and how it functions. In particular, church members alone can approve the church’s budget and where money is spent.  Only church members can raise queries and make proposals about any issue at a church meeting.  If you would like to have a voice in the way that our church is run and the things that it does, you need to have a vote, and to have a vote, you need to be church member.  Although the church provides support and care for everyone, the church has a special responsibility towards its members who are in need. Members who wish to make use of the church’s facilities or ministries are given priority over non-members.  Members can assist the leadership of the church in planning and effectively running the church.

Some of the departments of the church require you to be a church member before you can become involved.  Most pastors, elders, deacons, teachers, and committee members  must be church members.

Although membership in any church is not necessary for salvation nor membership in a local church.  It is however helpful to an individual for spiritual growth and for service.  So what exactly does membership in the church mean?

To be a member of the local church means to be a member of the body of which Christ is the head. The apostle Paul said: 1 Corinthians 12:12 says “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.”  In verse 20, he said: “But now are they many members, yet but one body.” In verse 27, he said: “Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.” In Ephesians 1: 22,23, the apostle Paul identified the body as the church. He said: “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.”

Paul compares the body of Christ to a human body.  Each part has a specific foundation that is necessary to the body as a whole.  The parts are different for a purpose, and in their differences they must work together.  When a body of Christ chooses not to work together then it causes discord within that body.

Membership in the local church also involves responsibilities. Since membership involves privileges, it also involves some great and serious responsibilities. The idea that some seem to have is that they will let others do all of the work of evangelism, benevolence, and edification, and that they will let others work to build up God’s kingdom here, and then that they will share in the rewards at the end of the way, is an idea that is foreign to the Scriptures. We have a duty and a responsibility.

My friend, if you are pleasing to God, you will not only have obeyed the gospel, but you will be a working member of a local congregation that can be identified as a faithful church of Christ. That means then that you will do these things:

1.  You will submit yourself to the elders of a local congregation, or its duly appointed leaders, for Hebrews 13:17 says, “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.”

2.  You will also have fellowship or participation in the work of the local congregation. Paul taught: “Put them in mind to be subject to principalities, and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work” (Tit. 3:1,2). Jesus said that a tree is known by its fruit, (Luke 6:44).

3.  You will do your best to preserve the peace, unity and harmony of the body. The apostle Paul besought the Corinthians that there be “no divisions among you” (1 Corinthians 1:10). He commanded that there be “no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another” (1 Corinthians 12:25). He warned the Romans to avoid “them which cause divisions and of fences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned” (Romans 16:17).

4.  Finally, as a member of the church, you will seek to bear fruit. Jesus taught that it was of highest importance to be and abide in the true vine (John 15:6,7). But he also taught that those branches on the true vine, i. e., disciples, which do not bear fruit will be cut off, and cast into the fire, (John 15:6). He said that the proof of discipleship is fruitbearing, (John 15:8). Fruitbearing means reaching out to the least, the last, and the lost.  It also means being and making yourself available to any and all ministries that fit with the gifts that the Lord has blessed you with.

Christ is the head, the church is his body, every Christian is a member. Now one cannot be joined to the head without being a member of the body, which is the church.  Likewise a person cannot receive God’s blessings unless they are a part of His church (universal).

So do you have to be a member of a church to be saved?  Absolutely not!  Do you have to be saved to be a member of a church?  In most churches, yes.  Does being a member of a church make it easier to serve God?  Sure it does!  Why?  Because you have other “like-minded” believers to not only help you in your christian walk but to hold you accountable.

What choice will you make today to serve God?  Will you be a part of a body of like-minded believers, or will you be a mere pew warmer?

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