1st Principles

By Justin Reed,2014-04-11 03:36
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This is where the natural or corporate reasons for local church only to those individuals that meet the requirements of that specific local church.

    "First Principles"


    LESSON 11

Local church membership, just like many other topics, is not explicitly mentioned in the Bible, however, it is implied

    throughout the scriptures. There are many reasons why membership for each specific local church needs to be

    established. In order to identify them, you need to separate them into the categories of natural (corporate) and spiritual

    (ecclesiastical). Since we lived in New York State and established churches within that state, I’ll use what their corporate laws say in order to give us an example. (Note that I am only using them as an example and might not be quoting their

    laws word for word). Incorporated or not, there exists within church structure, two separate entities, one of which is the

    corporate entity and the other; the ecclesiastical entity. The local church as a religious corporation consists of trustees

    and all persons having the right to vote at a corporate meeting. In order to elect trustees, it has to be determined who

    has the right to vote. This is where the natural or corporate reasons for local church membership become evident. It

    should be understood that the corporate entity of the church has no jurisdiction whatsoever in the affairs of the spiritual or

    ecclesiastical entity of the church but rather the corporate entity is always subservient to the spiritual entity. The

    ecclesiastical / spiritual jurisdiction rests solely upon the shoulders of the elders, with the bishop of that particular local

    assembly, having the final authority. This ecclesiastical jurisdiction (bishop and elders) covers all matters of faith,

    doctrine and discipline. To further separate the corporate and ecclesiastical entity of a church, the religious corporation

    law of New York State says that the corporate entity does not have any power to select or to settle or to remove or to fix

    the salary of the bishop or elders of a local assembly. When we use the term bishop and elders, we are doing so in the

    framework of lessons 1, 2 and 3 of the Church Government Series.

A. Now that we have covered the jurisdiction or powers of the corporate entity and have given some of the natural or

    corporate reasons for local church membership, let’s look at some of the scriptures where local church membership

    is clearly implied. Hopefully by the time we finish this lesson, each person will understand that God’s plan for each

    of His children is for them to become actively submitted to the covenant of local church membership. The primary

    reason for not embracing local church membership, whether it be on the part of the bishop and elders or on the

    part of those who attend, is a lack of knowledge as to what the scriptures teach in regard to this subject. Psalms

    68:6 (KJV) "God setteth the solitary in families: he bringeth out those which are bound with chains: but the

    rebellious dwell in a dry land." As you can see from this scripture, it is God who takes the solitary and places them

    in families. When we come to God He breaks our chains of isolationism by placing us in a particular local church

    (family) and when we are rebellious to God’s placement, we will dwell in a dry land. Having a church without

    having a well established membership is like having two people who are willing to live together but are unwilling to

    enter into a covenant of marriage; there is no covenantal bond and therefore it reinforces the idea of attending but

    not belonging. Then again, we go through the process of putting the topic of discipline in our constitution and by-

    laws but how are you going to truly and effectively discipline someone who hasn’t entered into a covenantal

    relationship that acknowledges the right to discipline.

    1. 1 Corinthians 14:23 (KJV) "If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with

    tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?"

    a. If the church was only intended to be universal in nature, then the whole church could never be

    gathered together in one place. Nor would we be able to distinguish lines of authority and

    responsibility because none would officially be submitted to anyone else. Also how could you tell

    whether the whole church was there if you didn’t know who the whole church was?

    2. Acts 14:27 (KJV) "And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that

    God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles."

    a. Once again, how were they to know whether the church was gathered if they did not have some type of

    record as to who the church was?

    3. 1 Corinthians 12:12 (KJV) "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."

    LOCAL CHURCH MEMBERSHIP LESSON NUMBER 11, PAGE 2 Continuation of Paragraph A. 3.

    a. There are several comparisons that we can make from the above scripture. The one body can be

    compared to the one universal church and the many members can be compared to the many local

    churches that are part of the universal church. The one body can also be compared to one particular local church and the many members to the local church membership. We can also use the following

    scripture to compare the local church to the body of Christ and the local church membership can be

    compared to the members in particular. 1 Corinthians 12:27 (KJV) "Now ye are the body of Christ,

    and members in particular."

    B. Membership in a local church requires us to be in submission to others. Unless we submit ourselves to the

    covenant of local church membership, how are we going to know those that have the rule over us and how are we

    going to submit ourselves to the God ordained person who has the watch over our souls?

1. Hebrews 13:17 (KJV) "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. Ephesians 5:21 (KJV) "Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God."

    C. Local church membership is meant to be exclusive with membership being open only to those individuals that

    meet the requirements of that specific local church. The local church requirements for becoming part of that

    particular church should be supported by the Word of God. If a local church has already met the requirements for

    being a member of the universal church, then it is the individual that needs to meet the requirements of that

    particular church rather than the church meeting the requirements of that particular individual.

1. Exodus 12:44 (KJV) "But every man's servant that is bought for money, when thou hast circumcised him,

    then shall he eat thereof."

    a. Take note that the servant had to enter into the covenant of circumcision before they were allowed to

    partake of the Passover.

    2. Acts 2:47 (KJV) "Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church

    daily such as should be saved."

    a. Take note that salvation was a requirement for them to be added to the church.

3. 1 Timothy 5:9 (KJV) "Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the

    wife of one man,"

    a. Take note that the widow had to meet some requirements before she could be taken into the number.

    According to other scriptures, we know for sure that being 60 or older and having been the wife of one

    husband had nothing to do with a requirement for a widow to be saved. Therefore we must conclude

    that this scripture speaks of the requirement for being taken into the number of membership.

    D. Yes, local church membership is meant to be exclusive, with membership being open only to those individuals that

    meet the specific requirements for becoming part of that particular local church. But at the same time, unbelievers

    and non members should be evangelized and encouraged to attend church services on a regular basis. How will

    unbelievers ever get saved without hearing the message of salvation and how will the non member be able to

    make the decision to join a particular local church unless they attend long enough for you to get to know them and

    for them to get to know you? It should be understood that there should be no respect of persons when it comes to

    someone attending church as long as they attend for the right reasons and do not create a disturbance.

1. Romans 10:13-14 (KJV) "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. {14} How then

    shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have

    not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?"


    2. 1 Corinthians 5:1-5 (KJV) "It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication

    as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife. {2} And ye are

     puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. {3} For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present,

    concerning him that hath so done this deed, {4} In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered

    together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, {5} To deliver such an one unto Satan for the

    destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus."

3. James 2:2-4 (KJV) "For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and

    there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; 3 And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing,

    and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my

    footstool: 4 Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?"

    4. 1 Corinthians 12:23 (KJV) "And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon

    these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness."

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