Baptist Distinctives 5
Bible is the only rule of faith and practice
Autonomy of the local church
Priesthood of the believer
Individual Soul Liberty
Saved, Baptized Church Membership
Separation of Church and State
What other churches often practice
Many churches baptize babies into their membership
Other churches practice hereditary membership
What is the Church?
The Church is NOT…
a loose affiliation of people who hold roughly the same religious beliefs, no matter what those beliefs might be. I'm not joining a religious club when I join a church.
a building. A building is simply a place to meet. I'm not going to an exclusive clubhouse when I go to church.
a non-profit organization with a clear vision statement and lucid objectives. I'm not joining an altruistic or philanthropic society when I join a church.
The Church IS…
a regular assembly of people who profess and give evidence that they have been saved by God's grace alone, for His glory alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.
a local, living, and loving collection of people who are committed to Christ and committed to each other.
That is why church membership is for believers only.
Not just people who give mental assent to the gospel
But people who give evidence that God has changed their lives
People that are growing in grace and holiness What Does Church Membership Signify?
The church is a commitment to fulfill the one anothers of Scripture
We will love one, exhort one another, pray for one another, serve one another
We commit to attend together and work together
The church means we take responsibility in each other’s lives and for the purpose of the gospel
We see in the Scriptures members were saved and baptized
They were saved and added to the church Acts 2:47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
The church is a spiritual house I Peter 2:5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
We are not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers II Corinthians 6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
Look at the description Paul gives of the church I Corinthians 1:2 Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:
It meant something to be part of the church
Holiness and disciplining sin among members is clearly taught in the Scriptures I Corinthians 5:1 It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. 2 And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. 3 For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? 7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 9 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: 10 Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. 11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. 12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? 13 But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.
It appears that the church, the many, had disciplined this brother II Corinthians 2:6 Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. 7 So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.
The church kept a list of widows I Timothy 5:9 Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man, 10 Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work. 11 But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry; 12 Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith.
Why church membership must mean something
As a church we have a testimony before our community
Lost church members and their sin will cause the community to blaspheme the name of our God
Being a member of our church should mean you take ownership and responsibility
Each member of our church should accept the responsibilities of
Being faithful to attend
Be a regular giver
Pray regularly for our church, pastors, and each member
Be concerned about the ministry and mission of our church
How do we accept members
By baptism as they profess salvation and a desire to follow Jesus
Obviously they must be saved
They must express a desire to serve Jesus
By letter from another church of like faith and order
By statement of faith
They have have been saved by grace through faith alone
They have been baptized by immersion with no merit involved in their salvation