Question: I would like to see the scriptures that condone "church membership" to a local "church". I hear much about from so many "churches", but there is no such mention in the scriptures. Either you belong to the universal body of Christ or you have nothing. If there are scriptures in context to approve this please show them to me.
Answer: In Acts 9:26 we see where Paul was trying to associate himself with the local Christians, but they were afraid of him. Barnabas took hold of him and vouched for Paul's new faithfulness.
Paul wrote many letters to churches. Paul mentioned the churches at Rome. Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, and wrote several letters to churches meeting in peoples homes, Paul wrote to the elders and told them to take charge over the flock AMONG them. Peter also mentions Elders responsibilities are limited to their local congregations. Paul left Titus in Crete to set the churches in proper order. Paul left Timothy in Ephesus to keep control of a specific church. Paul wrote to the Colossians, a congregation he had never visited, but one of his fellow workers had brought into existence by the proclaiming of the Gospel.
Some writings are general and some are specific. To define a local church, we can see it this way. Though all are members of the universal body of Christ, those in a particular group combine or band themselves together so that they can encourage each other and work together to do the job that God gave all Christians to do.
Acts 2 talks about the effective outreach of the early church. Acts 8 tells of the persecution scattering faithful saints and they went preaching the gospel, and brought many to Christ. Paul established many local congregations on his first missionary journey, and went back and visited them to encourage them and see if there were any problems. Acts 20 tells that the saints gathered together to eat the Lord's supper. How did they know to do this and how was it decided it would be then? Because they had formed a local congregation and everyone of that congregation knew the proper times and place.
Local membership is by no means an endorsement of salvation. Only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life will be spared from the second death fires.
Local membership is made up of men and women, who hopefully are united in purpose and spirit. When one walks disorderly, there are rules to expel or disfellowship the indiviual/s.
Also due to the fact that man is not infallable, man can make rules that are acceptable to the group, but which are not acceptable to God. So a person in good standing with the men of the congregation is decieved into thinking that it equates to God's approval. Read what Paul wrote in Gal 6:7 "Do not be deceived......"
I hope this answers your questions. Keep studying God's word. (www.Askme.com on 7/6/2000)
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