Dear Sovereign Redeemer and other friends,
Teaching means preparing. Preparing means wrestling with what the Bible does and doesn’t say, along with the associated implications. That process always imparts increased clarity, and I have recently been the beneficiary, having been given the privilege to teach on the subject of church membership. At the heart of my preparations has been the careful consideration of two critical questions: (1) Is church membership Biblical? and (2) Is it important?
Skipping to the punch line, I believe the answers are “solidly” and “vitally”. Church membership is solidly Biblical. Church membership is vitally important. These conclusions are the output of several years of intermittent thought and study, though, so I don’t expect you to take my word for it. I don’t even desire you to take my word for it. I would be grateful, however, if you would give a fair hearing to the arguments that I think are most relevant. At least to me, they are compelling and definitive.
My intent is to write a series of posts which establish these arguments from Scripture:
– Argument 1: The Local Church Is a Distinct Biblical Entity
– Argument 2: The Local Church Is a Flock
– Argument 3: Serious Obligations Require Order
– Argument 4: The Regulative Principle Requires Church Membership (not precludes it)
– Argument 5: Blessing Awaits Those Who Cross Two Lines
These core arguments build up to an understanding that church membership is Biblical and that it really matters in the life of a church. As always, the Bible must be the first word and the final word. The pragmatic arguments are interesting, but they are not the mind of God on the matter. My hope is that by carefully handling texts which speak to the subject, God will give us unity and clarity.