Church Membership

Section 1 - Lesson 3
Text: Matthew 16:13-18 (Be sure to read the text.)
Matthew 16:13 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? 14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. 15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? 16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. 18 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.

Introduction

In our text, Simon Peter has just professed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.  Jesus responded by saying, “Upon this rock I will build my church. . . .”  The Lord announced plans to build His Church.  This Church will be composed of those, who, like Simon Peter, professed Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God.  While the Church is composed of those who have gotten saved, It was built upon none other than Christ Himself.

While this Church is made up of Believers everywhere, It exists as numerous visible local churches.  Throughout the New Testament, there are instructions on how these local churches are to be built and to operate.  Since you have professed Jesus Christ to be your Savior, you will richly gain by joining a local church.  You became a member of His Church at salvation, but you become a member of a local church by membership.

You should prayerfully seek out a local church to join.  There are some basic things which will help you to select the right church. You should consider the preaching, the people, and the purpose of the local church.

Preaching of the Church

One of the important considerations for choosing a biblical church to join is the preaching of the church.  Concerning preaching, Paul informed us, “For the preaching  of  the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. . . . For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (1st Corinthians 1:18, 21).  In the Bible, God puts an emphasis on preaching.  Therefore, the biblical church should too!

There are two main points to consider as to the preaching of a church.

Activity of Preaching

The first point to consider is the activity of preaching. The activities of a church will include preaching, singing, and fellowship.  All of these things are important activities of the local church.  Some churches are built around the singing program of the church.  Others are built around the social activities.  The biblical church has been built around preaching.  Preaching should be the major emphasis of the church you should join.

It is important to find a pastor who will preach the Bible as it is to people as they are.  Without fear or favor, he preaches sound biblical messages.  He will preach against the evils of his day without compromise of the Word of God.

Accuracy of Preaching

The second point to consider is the accuracy of preaching.  Preaching is such an important function of the local church that is must be accurate.  Note three things which characterize accurate preaching.  The first important measure of accurate preaching is the Bible used.  You should find a church that uses the King James Bible in its teaching and its preaching.  This Bible is the only one that comes from the Greek text called the “Textus  Receptus” or the “Received Text.”  This is the text used by those who translated the Bible into English under the authority of King James of  England.  It is the accuracy of this text that caused  these translators to use it for the basis of this world-acclaimed English Bible.

Another characteristic of accurate preaching concerns the beliefs that are taught.  These teachings or doctrines that are taught must be accurately based upon the Word of God.  A church can use the King James  Bible and still be unbiblical in its teachings.  Are the doctrines of this church  found in the Bible?  Baptists have long accepted the Bible as their rule for faith and for practice.  A church that denies the Bible to be the Word of God does not have an accurate source to base its teachings upon.

A third measure of accurate preaching is the behavior encouraged.  Does the preaching of this church denounce worldly and ungodly living?  Does it promote a biblical lifestyle of godliness?  Preaching that does not challenge you to change your behavior is not accurate preaching.

People of the Church

Jesus announced plans to build His Church which would be composed of those who will profess that He is the Christ, the Son of God.  The Church is not composed of buildings, but of saved people with a common faith. As a consequence, some of the best churches may not be located in the most impressive buildings.  For the building does not make the Church, but the people do.

According to the Scriptures, the local church is composed of two groups of people.

Officers of the Church

There are two biblical offices within the local church.  These offices are those of the pastor and of the deacons.  The qualifications for those who fill these offices are found in 1st Timothy.  According to the Scriptures, each local church is to have a pastor or overseer.  The pastor is to oversee or lead the local church.  His functions are to preach the Word, to pastor the people, and to preside over the church.  This man is to lead the church in carrying out the New Testament mandates for the Church.

While the pastor is the presiding officiant of the local church, Christ is the head of the Church.  The pastor is to lead the church as Christ leads him through the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit.  Baptists teach that the local church is autonomous.  This means that the highest human office of the local church is that of the pastor.  No one resides over the local pastor.  However, he is accountable both to God and to his membership.  While God  has called him into the ministry, it is his church who has called him to be their pastor.  His call is indefinite.  This means he is to stay in his office as pastor until he feels led to leave or until he is dismissed by the majority of the membership.

The second biblical office of the local church is that of the deacon.  The function of the office of the deacon is found in Acts 6.  These first deacons took care of the day-to-day administrations of the church so the pastor could devote his time to prayer and to Bible study.  While the primary function of the pastor is to supervise, the primary function of the deacon is to serve.

Others of the Church

While both the pastor and the deacons occupy important offices in the local church, the other members of the church are of equal importance.  Many of them will occupy key positions of leadership in the church.  These positions are coordinated under the pastor to enhance the overall ministry of the church.  Even those who do not hold an office make valuable contributions to their church.  Through their faithful attendance, financial giving, and frequent visitation, the local church may grow and thrive.  Without their participation, the church will be greatly hindered in its biblical purposes.

Purpose of the Church

Another important aspect to consider in selecting a church is the threefold purpose of the Church.  Jesus Christ gave the purposes of the Church in His Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20.  There are three things that the Savior mandated as the purposes of His Church.

Evangelizing the Sinners

The first priority Jesus gave to His Church was to evangelize the sinners.  Jesus has made it possible that all men might be saved.  The Church has the responsibility of preaching and of witnessing so that the lost can be saved.  As instructed, the Church even sends out missionaries around the world for the task of evangelization.

Enlisting the Saints

The second task of the Church is to enlist those who have been recently saved as church members.  God established His Church for the benefit of the Saints.  It is the will of God that those who get saved become members of a local church where they can serve and be served.  Those who are out of church are out of the will of God.  God has chosen the local church to be a channel of blessings for humanity.

Equipping the Saints

The third purpose of the Church is equipping the Saints.  It is the responsibility of the local church to disciple or to train those it leads to Christ and prepare them for Christian service.  It is the Church’s job to help you be all you can be for God!

Section One–Lesson Three

Church Membership

  1. Three basic things you should consider in selecting a biblical church to join are the _____________ of the church, the _______________ of the church, and the ____________ of the church.
  2. The biblical church is to build around ________________.
  3. Accurate preaching is characterized by the __________ used, the __________ taught, and the _________ encouraged.
  4. The Church is not composed of buildings, but of _________________ with a common faith.
  5. The first group of which the local church is composed is the ______________ of the church.
  6. The __________ is to lead the church as Christ leads him.
  7. The __________ takes care of the day-to-day activities so the pastor can devote his time to prayer and Bible study.
  8. The __________ of the church are of equal importance to the offices of the pastor and the deacons.
  9. The threefold purpose of the church is to ____________ the sinner, _________ the Saint, and to __________ the Saints.
Donnie Melton