Note: Last month I preached a message in Lynchburg on church membership in which I used these headings:
1. We find the roots for the practice of church membership in practices of the Old Testament people of God where every person was in a specific family and tribe (cf. Numbers 4; Joshua 7:16-18; 1 Samuel 10:20-21). There was no such thing as a free-lance, unconnected Israelite!
2. Jesus’ command for love as a defining mark among his disciples can only be realized through participation in a defined local body (see John 13:34-35).
3. The descriptions of the local church in Jerusalem in Acts indicate a well defined body of believers (cf. Acts 1:15; 2:41, 47; 4:4).
4. The letters of Paul in the NT were generally addressed to defined churches in distinct geographical areas or to the acknowledged spiritual leaders of those bodies (cf. Rom 1:7; 16:4-5, 16; 1 Cor 1:2; 2 Cor 1:1; Phil 1:1; 1 Thess 1:1; 2 Thess 1:1).
5. The local church is necessary for the proper and healthy exercise of church discipline (cf. Matt 18:15-17; 1 Cor 5:4-5; 2 Cor 2:6; 1 Tim 5:9).
6. The existence of a defined local church is assumed in the New Testament both in the setting apart of persons to ministry service and in the exercise of spiritual rule (cf. Acts 6:2-3; Heb 13:7, 17).
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle
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