Every true Christian should be a church member. There seems to be the perception among some that church membership is just for those with an extra level of commitment. But church membership is normal.
If I could take 1 Corinthians 5:1-5 as the base for the assertion that church membership is normal.
“It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate: a man is sleeping with his father’s wife. And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have gone into mourning and have put out of your fellowship the man who has been doing this? For my part, even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. As one who is present with you in this way, I have already passed judgment in the name of our Lord Jesus on the one who has been doing this. So when you are assembled and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.”
Three things I want to particularly notice here:
- Because of his immoral activity, the church member has to be put away from the fellowship (see v2). By implication, in order to be put out of the fellowship, you have to be in it first of all.
- The man is delivered to Satan. He is delivered into the world. There are two realms: the church and the world. If someone is not committed to a church through church membership, they are placing themselves in the world which is Satan’s domain. They are placing themselves in the realm of the unbeliever.
- The man needs to come to repentance that he might come back into the church. This appears to have taken place and the details of it is recorded in 2 Corinthians 2:5-11.
There seems only three reasons why a Christian is not in church membership:
- through immorality (see 1 Cor. 5:1-5)
- through holding and /or teaching false doctrine: (compare Gal. 5:7-12 and Rev. 2:14-16)
- through being a division-maker. Titus 3:10:11 reads Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them. You may be sure that such people are warped and sinful; they are self-condemned.
For these three categories of people, there is the desire that they would come to repentance and be restored to the church.
So if you are in this void of being a Christian, but not being a church member:
- If that is through immorality or being a false teacher or holding false teaching or being a division maker, you must repent and seek restoration to the church.
- If you are guilty of none of these, then you should seek church membership at the earliest opportunity.
If you will not respond to either of these calls then do you not deserve to be treated like one who is in the world in the domain of Satan, acting as an unbeliever?
(Originally published at Venabling on 27th March 2014).