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Church Membership

Church Membership

"Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular."

1 Corinthians 12:27 (KJV)

What is the "Church?"

Jesus first mentions the "church" in Matthew 16:18 (KJV). "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this ROCK I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." It is important to note here what Jesus is referring to as the "ROCK" upon which the church is built.

  • Answer: Read ALL of Ephesians Chapter 2, but you will come to the last 4 scriptures, Ephesians 2:19-22 KJV:
    "Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit."
  • The Prophets prophesied of Jesus--> Jesus lived as an example, set our Biblical Doctrines, and appointed the Apostles --> the Apostles kept and taught the Doctrines and Gospel of Jesus Christ --> and we that are saved (by faith in Jesus Christ) are the "Church" set upon that solid rock (foundation of the church).

There are many contraversies over the meaning of "church" in the Bible. The original Greek Text of the New Testament uses "ekklesia" where the English version uses "church." "Ekklesia" is used in 115 places in the New Testament. The controversy is whether "church" in the English version (i.e. The King James Version) means 1) an "assembly" of people, 2) a building of religious worship, or 3) a univeral group (all of the world throughout all of time) of "saved" individuals. Here, we will give several examples of how it is used in the Bible:

The Church as a physical location or building. The use of "in the church" has been taken to mean a physical buiding or "church service."

  • 1 Corinthians 14:35 (KJV) " And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church."
  • 1 Timothy 3:15 (KJV) "But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."

The Church as the "saved," children of God as a whole; a group separate from the "lost."

  • Matthew 18:17 (KJV) "And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it to the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican."
  • 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."
  • Acts 11:26 (KJV) "And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch."
  • 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."

The Church as a different location or group from other locations or groups of "saved," children of God. (Other examples).

  • Acts 8:1 (KJV) "And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles."

The Greek term "ekklesia" actually translates to "a popular meeting" or "assembly." Through historical events and the translation process of the Bible from the original Hebrew and Greek Texts, "ekklesia" has been translated to and used synonymously with the English term "church." Though 1 Timothy 3:15 (KJV) appears to refer to the church as being a "house" or building, verses 4 & 5 state, "One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)." Each term, "house" and "church," refers to a group or assembly of people.

We, therefore, believe that the "church" is the "local, visible body of scripturally baptized believers, joined together for the edification of the saints and for the propagation of the gospel at home and abroad.  We further believe the Lord’s Church is the only authority established by God to spread the gospel, baptize believers, and to teach all things in His Word" (see Doctrines page). These local, visible body churches are found all over the world.

The Church: The Body of Christ

The Church is also referred to as the "body of Christ."

  • Colossians 1:18-24 (KJV) "And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister; Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church:"

Who or what is the "body of Christ?"

  • 1 Corinthians 12:12-20 (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. 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. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?  If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.  And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body."

  • Ephesians 4:4-16 (KJV) "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 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."

Summary:

When we are saved, we are baptized (spiritually) by the Holy Spirit into the family of God. As an act of a good conscience toward God, we are baptized (submersion in water) into the local, visible church by an ordained minister that has been given the authority by God through the local church. Most local churches give the new "member" the right hand of Christian fellowship, welcoming them into the "body of Christ" or the "church."

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