Called to Church Membership
“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Written to the local church in Ephesus by the Apostle Paul, cir. 60 A.D.
The gospel of Jesus Christ calls us to a radically new life. In Christ we are changed from rebels from God to children of God. We receive forgiveness of sins and new life in the Spirit. As we learn from the book of Romans, especially chapter 6, all of this flows to us as a result of our identification with Christ in his death and resurrection. By faith we are united to Christ and as a result his death counts for ours, and we share in His resurrection life.
This amazing unity that we have with Christ through the gospel is also expressed in the unity and identity we experience in the local church. In the same way that the gospel has radical effects in our lives, so too the radical nature of the gospel is mirrored by our connection to the local church. Being united to Christ also means being united to all other Christians. This profound unity is true of all Christians everywhere and through all time–yet it is most explicitly intended to be experienced in the local church.
God intends our participation in the local church to be much more than attending worship service on Sunday morning. A brief study of the “one anothers” of the New Testament (ex. , , , , , , , , , ) describe a depth of relationship and a breadth of responsibility toward our brothers and sisters which cannot be fulfilled without knowing exactly who these “one anothers” actually are.
The principle of defined church membership is essential for members of a local church to truly live out the gospel in the kind of communities that God designed. This is especially true in our day and age where there are many local churches one could visit on a Sunday.
Redeeming Grace Church Membership
Striving for unity in the local church includes maintaining our relationships, loving one another, and working out conflicts according to Biblical principles of godly pursuit of one another (), repentance () and forgiveness (). But unity is also a unity of mind () and a unity in knowledge of the truth (), which includes doctrinal convictions, convictions regarding corporate practices, and even our Biblical values.
Striving for unity in these areas begins with knowing what these doctrines, practices, and values are. That’s why Redeeming Grace Church places significant emphasis on our membership process which includes working through a 10 session membership class and a pastoral interview. The goal of these efforts is not to make it hard to become a member, rather it is to do the best job we can to state clearly what our doctrinal beliefs, practices and values are so that as a body of believers we can glorify God together, walking in a manor worthy of our calling, as we strive for unity in this local church.
10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. (ESV)
16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. (ESV)
33 So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another— (ESV)
13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. (ESV)
2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, (ESV)
32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (ESV)
11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. (ESV)
13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. (ESV)
24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (ESV)
16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (ESV)
6:1 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. (ESV)
10 For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. (ESV)
13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. (ESV)
8 Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. (ESV)
13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, (ESV)