Identity Of The Church Of Christ
Today, we will view what membership is and is not. The requirements for membership in the Church, that Jesus died for and purchased with His blood (Acts 20:28) are provided in God's word. They are found in the obedience to the commands of Jesus and His designated speakers; the Apostles and the Holy Spirit (in other words, the Bible).
The first thing we need to do is determine what membership is and what is involved in membership, and the second thing to do will be to identify that of which we are a member.
Bible terminology can be difficult for the uninformed and ignorant. Sometimes we hear a phrase or word and associate it immediately in one sense, while the word may be used differently.
Membership is describing a relationship. How we use the word will be determined by the particular relationships within the context. We will see that one could have a relationship in one sense, but not in another. My particular relationships include Christian, husband, father, member, supervisor, neighbor, friend, acquaintance, and stranger. Some of these relationships overlap as my family attends the same congregation of believers as I. So my wife and daughter are also my brethren. But where many have misunderstanding is in trying to separate the various relationships into their proper place.
Foremost in our Christian relationship, we are members of the body of Christ. We belong to Him (Romans 14:8), and are members of His church. This relationship is separate from the other relationships. Other people have the same relationship with Christ, and thus they share the same type of relationship. On a local level, we have this relationship in a threefold sense. One is our individual relationship with Christ, and one is our relationship with our brethren and one is in our common (shared) alliance with Christ.
Our membership exists because God adds us to this fellowship (Acts 2:47). God adds us upon our obedience to His commandment to be baptized for the remission of sins. Because our sins keep us separate from God (Isaiah 59:2), we must have them removed. The process of baptism does this (Acts 16:22). Thus being clean and new, we are allowed into the presence of God through this relationship. In this relationship, we are members of Christ's body, His church (Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 1:22-23).
As long as we are faithful to Christ and His doctrine and seek to bring glory to God, we will be preserved and we will have the hope of eternal salvation in heaven.
We also recognize that membership carries with it a grave responsibility to the relationship. As a husband and wife are given instruction on how to treat each other, so Christians are instructed how they are to treat Christ and His church, the body (or other Christians). There are many parallels in the scriptures to help the Christian understand their relationship with Christ, and their relationship with other Christians. These are written in human language that we can understand, and they are written as commandments, not just suggestions. As the beloved John wrote: "And this is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. And the one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And we know by this that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us. (1 John 3:23-24).
By Carey Scott
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