November 5, 2017
1 Cor. 12:12-26 and other passages
Main Theme: We want to remind ourselves why its important to be join the church, to be members of the Body by committing ourselves to it. Church membership is an important topic for understanding what Christ is calling us to as His followers, His disciples.
Why join a local church?
I. To Assure Our Faith
- When we join a local church, it provides confirmation outside of ourselves that our faith is real/authentic.
- Our own faith must be tested and tried so that we’re not deluding ourselves in thinking we have faith when in fact we do not.
- History is full of stories of men and women who have gone off the rails because they did their own thing – they were not accountable in a local church.
- As we join a church, we affirm that church’s Statement of Faith. Our Statement of Faith can be found here.
- There is great comfort in the doctrinal and biblical unity that comes from publicly affirming your commitment to upholding the doctrine of the Body to which you are joining.
- Becoming a member of the church is saying “this is what I believe to be true, and these doctrines are what I believe is important.” Our faith is affirmed and upheld as we walk the spiritual journey of this life with others who affirm the same biblical doctrines and truths and also help us to live out our biblical convictions.
II. To Encourage and Serve Fellow Believers
- In our tendency to focus on ourselves, we often think about the reasons for joining the church as related to ourselves: How will this benefit me? What is the impact on me? What are the expectations of me?
- While those are good questions to ask, they aren’t the only or even primary questions to consider. Other’s include: How might God be calling me to use my gifts to serve in this church? If I join, what message does that send to my fellow brothers and sisters about my commitment to them? Will that encourage them? Conversely, will my unwillingness to become a member communicate something of a lack of commitment to them?
Encourage One Another
“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” — Ephesians 4:15-16
- Without being joined together with other believers, we will lack the strength, nourishment and encouragement that each member, including ourselves, is to supply.
Using our Gifts to Serve One Another
- God’s gifts are given to individuals to build up the church! Gifts are given for the equipping of Christ’s Body that it might mature and grow in faith.
- Specific gifts are given to be exercised corporately that all may receive the benefit and blessing God intends through the various parts of His Body.
Loving One Another, Promote Unity
“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” — John 13:35
- When His disciples function together, as one, loving one another, we demonstrate the reality of our faith.
III. To Persevere In Your Faith
- The grace we need to persevere to the end comes to us in part, through the Body — through fellow church members as well as pastors who care for our souls.
“Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which He obtained with His own blood.” — Acts 20:28
- We do affirm that God is the One who holds us fast, and in this truth we greatly rejoice! We need a good, strong, faithful God to hold us fast!
- Yet one of the very clear ways God intends to hold us fast is through the fellowship and friendship we have with other people in the church who are committed to walking with us. A significant part of His plan in holding us fast is to use imperfect people to walk with us, encourage us, occasionally asking us tough questions that make us squirm, because they love us.
- So in being a committed member of the church, we are covenanting together to accountability with one another.
IV. To Spread The Gospel
- We reach out better as a community than as lone individuals.We can together accomplish so much more than we can individually!
- A whole community more accurately reflects the Body of Christ than one individual can.
- True community happens not by some loose association of believers, who are coming and going, with no accountability and no commitment to each other, but in deep, committed relationships together.
- This is God’s design for the church. Christ Jesus Himself promises to uphold and build His church.
What does membership at GCC entail?
- A clear testimony of personal faith in Christ Jesus
- Baptism as the witness to your faith in Christ
- Attending Exploring Grace Classes
- Signing the Membership Agreement
- Attend services regularly
- Participate in communion
- Support the work of the gospel by your regular prayers
- Support the work of the gospel by your regular giving
V. To Glorify God
“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks the oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies – in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To Him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” – 1 Peter 4:10-11-
- We glorify God when we come together in membership in the local church.
- There is no such thing biblically as a lone ranger Christian.
- In our day, we must recover a high view of the local church and of membership in it. God’s ordained intention is that Christians grow in the context of the local body where they are committed, where they are members.
- You can find scores of titles about spiritual Christian growth that never say a thing about the value and primacy of God’s intention that the church be a primary means of growth – it can all be about “Jesus and me.” God never intended that our Christian faith be merely “Jesus and me”
- “Lone Ranger Christian” – that should truly be a contradiction in terms
- Becoming a Christian fundamentally means being united to someone – namely Christ.
- Union with Christ expresses itself in union with a local body of believers.
- This brings honor to God. Imagine the glory that God will receive in that future day, when gathered around His throne are people from every tribe and tongue and people group in the world, and we are there, together, united in praise to our King! And He deserves great glory, because redeeming us cost Him so much!
- Until that day comes, we can gather in our local bodies, and commit ourselves to being part of that Body, by covenanting together in the local church. After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” — Revelation 7:9-12
* Note: This sermon draws from from Mark Dever’s book 9 Marks of a Healthy Church. Some of these points are reflective of his thoughts in his book.
Questions for Discussion / Application:
- Having heard this sermon, in 30 seconds summarize why you believe church membership matters and is important.
- What would you say to someone who said, “I don’t need to join a local church. I am part of the universal church”? How would you counsel them?
- What are the benefits of joining a local church? How have you benefited personally from being a member of the local church you are part of?
- What are some practical ways church members can build one another up and encourage one another?
- What are the drawbacks/consequences of not joining a local church?
- Jeremy said, “We do affirm that God is the One who holds us fast, and in this truth we greatly rejoice! We need a good, strong, faithful God to hold us fast! Yet one of the very clear ways God intends to hold us fast is through the fellowship and friendship we have with other people in the church who are committed to walking with us.” How does God “hold us fast” through fellowship and friendship? How practically does that get worked out in the life of the church? How have you’ve experienced God’s care, encouragement and strengthening through the church?
- Why is “Lone Ranger Christian” a contradiction in terms?
- How does church membership help us as believers in terms of our witness? How does it help when it comes to reaching out to the lost around us?