Tuesday, October 28
Wheat/Tares and Church Membership (3)
“Matthew 16:18 “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.”
The gates of hell will never prevail nor have they ever prevailed against the Church, the body of Christ. God establishes each member in Christ, seals each member individually, gives us the earnest of the Spirit in our heart, the guarantee of our inheritance. (2 Corinthians 1:21-22) (Ephesians 1:13-14) This is our membership in the body of Christ.
From the biblical perspective there is only ONE Church, ONE body and this body is comprised of all those for whom Christ died, the elect Jew, Gentile, man, woman, child, there is no distinction. Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus”.
It is the ONE body, the body that we are united to by Grace in eternal election, the body that was given to Christ by the Father, that Christ purchased with His blood and the body that He is the head of. This is the body that I am a member of.
For me it seems quite simple. The Church, the body, assembles in different places which is what the scripture is attesting to when it talks of the ‘church’ at Ephesus for example. If we call it what it is it would be the assembly at Ephesus or the assemblies (plural) in a region, i.e. ‘Asia’. The scripture is telling us that members of the one Church, the body, assembled together to worship the Lord, to learn the Lord’s doctrines, to fellowship in the Truth, to encourage, to edify one another, to weep/rejoice together, to bear one another’s burdens, to celebrate the bread and the wine together and to pray. I love to assemble with the saints, to use the gifts that the Spirit has given to me for the body and to grow together in the grace & knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Acts 2:42 “And the continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine, and in fellowship, and in the breaking of bread and in prayer.”
Being considered a tare because of withdrawing my membership from the ‘church’ really gave me pause to think further on the requirement of ‘church’ membership and how that requirement makes distinctions in the body of Christ. First of all I cannot find a single reference to the idea of ‘vows’ given to a certain assembly of believer’s, or a single reference to the requirement of membership in the Scripture. I don’t find that the scripture speaks of distinctions that are made in the body between the members or the non member however that is common ‘church’ practice, especially with the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. Confession of faith doesn’t have much meaning any longer, too many other considerations come before confession, or so it seems!
I confess Jesus Christ who is the Way, the Truth and the Life and I confess: “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” Acts 4:12. I am accountable to Him alone for He is the Shepherd of my soul, the Bread of life; He is the Living Water and the Manna from heaven. He is my Rock, my Redeemer, my Savior and my Substitute. He is the Lamb of God who took away my sin so that I am as white as snow in the Father’s eyes. He alone is my Mediator who ever liveth to make intercession for me. Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever and ever, amen! I confess this outside of membership and I trust fully the Lord Jesus Christ who has saved me to the uttermost! Amen and Amen!
Grace and Peace