Is Church Membership Essential to Service?

Discussion in '2004 Archive' started by MTA, Jul 1, 2004.

  1. MTA

    MTA
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    Can a saved person truly serve God outside of the church? Agreeing that Christ is the head of the body and the body is the Church, can a person effectively serve God outside the body?

    Many people claim to be able to serve God equally well without ever joining one of His churches?

    I have stood against this position all my life, but I am curious how some of you view this.
     
  2. USN2Pulpit

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    I don't see how one can demonstrate committment to the LORD without being a committed member of the local body.
     
  3. Pastor Larry

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    I would go a little past USN and question whether a commitment to Christ can even exist without being a part of his body, much less be demonstrated. Why wouldn't a person be a member of a local body?
     
  4. Pluvivs

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    Pastor Larry, does that mean you believe the true saints persevere, or simply that you would question their sainthood?

    If Christ's Bride consists of only those who are in certain at-this-time-undefined church assemblies, then does that mean that all others in Christiandom are disobedient? And if so, would that mean we should question their salvation as well?

    Personally, I agree wholeheartedly that one who does not seek out a local church is living contrary to God's command, and has either been misled or is outrightly rebellious.

    -Pluvivs
     
  5. Johnv

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    Yes, definitely. I serve God by volunteering for Habitat for Humanity.

    But the question at the top of the topic is "Is Church Membership Essential to Service?". The answer is no. Most of my service activities are independent of my church activities.
    Now, that's a different issue. I think church attendence and fellowship with other believers is essential to an individual's spiritual growth. But that does not mean that every act of service you do must be church-run. My church does not have a Habitat for Humanity chapter.
     
  6. Pastor Larry

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    Yes, I believe that true saints persvere. As for questioning their sainthood, I would challenge them on it certainly.

    I don't know what you mean by "at this time undefined" ... I think it is very defined ... Question their salvation? No, challenge them biblically ...

    I agree ...

    As for John's comments, it is entirely possible to serve Christ when you are not assembled together, or even to serve Christ in something your church does not specifically and formally sponsor, such as taking pies next door, mowing a neighbor's grass (any volunteers or shall I leave work early today to get it done???), etc ... But the question is different than that. Church membership in a NT church is essential to obedience, and therefore essential to serving God. Should a person move or face other circumstances that cause them to leave a church, they should, as quickly as possible, unite with another NT church.
     
  7. Pluvivs

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    Pastor Larry, by "at-this-time-undefined," I meant "at this time in the thread," not "at this time in history." I'd rather see the definition of the Church in light of the Bride discussed in the Fundamental Baptist Forum topics of that persuasion.

    My point in asking was (if it be not clear), if being _in_ the church is foundationally important to being obedient (for, performing service to God while disobedient is still disobedience), then we ought to be sure we are in the right church. Perhaps it's not on topic enough at this time, but according to your position of the perseverence of the saints, wouldn't that mean that everyone who is in the wrong church is disobedient and are probably not saved, and thus their sainthood should be challenged?

    -Pluvivs
     
  8. amixedupmom

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    How about a Missionary?
     
  9. dianetavegia

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    A Missionary is an extension of a church, generally supported financially by a church or church organization.

    I believe you should be an ACTIVE MEMBER in a local church as a Christian. New insurance regulations for MY church insist that those working with youth and children be members for a specific amount of time before being allowed to work with children as well as undergo background checks at all their previous addresses.
     
  10. Marcia

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    A missionary is sent out from their church, usually supported by their church financially and by prayer. I do not see how anyone could be a missionary without being a member of a local church. They also need to be accountable to someone, usually to their church and sometimes to a mission board, and to any other churches or individuals who support them.
     
  11. amixedupmom

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    Very true. I had forgotten about this point. And, I like Diane's churches policy. So much happens in our world today that well, we have to go to these lengths to protect our own. It's sad that we have too.
     
  12. Pastor Larry

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    There are NT churches that are out of order. People in those churches are out of order. That doesn't mean they don't love God or aren't saved. There are organizations that call themselves churches that aren't NT churches. People can be in them and be unsaved or saved.

    The best case is to be an active member of a local, NT church. But there are non salvific differences in different churches. For instance, a Presbyterian church that does not immerse is a church out of order. They can be otherwise orthodox. I would not question the salvation of someone in a good Presbyterian church. I have friends that are that way. But I do think they are out of order.

    On the other hand, a "church" such as the Catholic Church is not a true church. That is a whole different issue.
     
  13. MTA

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    (There are also many so-called "Baptist" churches that bear no resemblance to NT churches, but I agree, that is a whole different issue.)

    If the "body" is authorized to do the work, can the work be accomplished without it? Separate your hand from your body and it will do nothing. If the comparison is reasonable, how can a person really serve Christ outside the body?

    Rom 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

    I understand we have individual responsibilities as children of God, but can a person ignore the authority given the body of Christ and still serve? If so, in what capacity?
     
  14. Pluvivs

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    Pastor Larry,

    You didn't address my point at all. Your position is that the true, saved, regenerated, elect Christians will persevere, meaning that they will not fall away from the true faith. How could one fall away? By being disobedient! As I stated before, any service while disobedient will dishonor God and will not well please Him.

    Therefore, if someone got saved by God's Grace, they will, according to the doctrine of the perseverence of the saints, be obedient and in follow the Lord faithfully.

    But you yourself said: "As for questioning their sainthood, I would challenge them on it certainly." That means that Presbyterian should be "challenged," until they confess their sin of disobedience and join a Baptist church, because they are out of order.

    -Pluvivs
     
  15. GODzThunder

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    Christ invented the local congregation. the Church in jerusalem was the pet project of his disciples who were filled with the Holy Ghost. Paul's mission was to instill Church congregations that would continue the purpose of spreading the gospel to the lost. If Christ invented it then I believe that is incentive enough to support it. God's prophets (the preachers, those who relay His word to His people) are within the Church. I have rarely heard of people being inspired that are out of Church compared to those who receive revelation in the Church.
     
  16. Pastor Larry

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    Falling away is more than disobedience. That was the major mistake made in another thread. Falling away is final apostasy and repudiation of Christ. We all sin through disobedience. We are not all falling away. Falling away is characterized by, among other things, habitual hardened sin.

    Yes, but not perfectly.

    No, because a member of a Presbyterian can fully affirm biblical salvation. The issues which make them "out of order" are, as I said, non-salvific issues, and there in lies the difference. We don't need to challenge their salvation at all. That is completely different from someone living in open unrepentant sin.
     
  17. Pluvivs

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    The very idea of Perserverence of the Saints, as I know it (which may very well be flawed), is that the true saints, though sinners and privy to the weakness which is in the flesh, will not lose faith--that true faith in God and our Lord Jesus Christ, no matter what. Those that do not hold on to the truth throughout their life were then assumed never to actually have been saved. And since we cannot know the future, any "apostasy and repudiation" would be perceived as "final" until the individual returns to repentance.

    I understand the differences between salvation-dependent issues (baptismal regeneration, works-based, etc), and others. My point is thus: if local church membership is important for or essential to our Christian service as according to scripture, then who are the true churches? For, those who are not in the true churches cannot truly perform legitimate service for they are "living in open unrepentant sin" by not being obedient to that scripture. For the church is his body, and therefore rejection of his true church is indeed rejection of Him, regardless of salvation, statement, or lifestyle.

    -Pluvivs
     
  18. Pastor Larry

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    But note the distinction between true churches, out of order churches, and non-churches. A true church can be out of order. People can serve God in them and God can bless their ministry, but they are still out of order.

    It is, in some ways, similar to the Christian life. We will never be perfect. But the fact that we do not do everything right does not mean that we do nothing right.
     
  19. Craigbythesea

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    The Baptist “Church” in my neighborhood has only one service a week, on Sunday mornings. The Catholic Church in my neighborhood has services everyday of the week, and on some days, several times a day. Needless to say, the Baptist “church” is dying, and the Catholic Church is growing and thriving. The Baptist “Church” is so run down that it is an embarrassment to the neighborhood, not to mention Christ Himself. The Catholic Church, on the other hand, is a beautiful edifice with manicured gardens that are a source of inspiration to the entire community.

    I served for six years as the pastor of an inner city church. We ministered to the lowest of the low, the “scum” that was discarded by the “evangelical churches” throughout the city. Needless to say, the people who entered our doors had a very low opinion of the pastors of the “evangelical churches.” (Although we were very evangelical in the Biblical sense, we did not use the word because it was to our people a pejorative term). Indeed, the only pastor in town that was well-spoken of by our visitors was the rector of the Catholic Cathedral. One piece of the rejected “scum,” a young woman, personally told me about a pastor who found her asleep late at night lying in a gutter along the road. He picked her up, put her in his car, drove her to a hotel, and got her a room for the night. That pastor was the Rector of the Cathedral. Another piece of the rejected “scum,” a young man, asked me for permission to use the telephone in my office. When I asked him why he wanted to use it, he handed me a piece of paper with a telephone number on it and told me that the man who gave it to him told him that if he ever really needed some help, to give him a call. It was 11:30 at night, but I called the number and the rector of the Catholic Cathedral answered the telephone, for it was he who had given the young man his telephone number at the rectory. And of course the priest ministered to the needs of the young man regardless of the hour. There was a third, similar, incident, but I do not remember the details. Personally, I spent an hour and a half visiting this Catholic priest in his office at the Cathedral, and that visit was one that I will never forget. If there ever was a man whose very being portrayed the true character of Christ, it was that Catholic priest. By the way, our furniture was donated to us by the members of the local inner-city Roman Catholic Church.

    Am I a Roman Catholic? Far from it! Am I proud of my Baptist heritage? Far from it!

    I have personally witnessed a Roman Catholic Bishop preach a sermon on being born again at a 12:00 midnight Christmas Eve. Mass in a Roman Catholic Cathedral with standing room only. I have also personally witnessed an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Pastor make a mockery of God and His Word Sunday after Sunday.

    A true church lifts of the name of Jesus in EVERYTHING THAT IT DOES, 24 HOURS A DAY, not just for one, two or three hours a week! It doesn’t matter what name is painted on the outside of the building; what matters is the Name that is lifted up inside the building, and that the Name be lifted up every day of the week. Preaching the Gospel is a snap; living the Gospel 24/7 is being a Christian. A group of these Christians is a church.
     
  20. Craigbythesea

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    Pastor Larry says that the Roman Catholic Church is not a “true” church. I am posting here a copy of Romans Chapter 3 from the leading Roman Catholic Translation, the New American Bible. Is this a translation by a true church or a false church. You Be the Judge:

    Romans 3

    Answers to Objections
    1. What advantage is there then in being a Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision?
    2. Much, in every respect. [For] in the first place, they were entrusted with the utterances of God.
    3. What if some were unfaithful? Will their infidelity nullify the fidelity of God?
    4. Of course not! God must be true, though every human being is a liar, as it is written:
    "That you may be justified in your words,
    and conquer when you are judged."

    5. But if our wickedness provides proof of God's righteousness, what can we say? Is God unjust, humanly speaking, to inflict his wrath?
    6. Of course not! For how else is God to judge the world?
    7. But if God's truth redounds to his glory through my falsehood, why am I still being condemned as a sinner?
    8. And why not say--as we are accused and as some claim we say--that we should do evil that good may come of it? Their penalty is what they deserve.

    Universal Bondage to Sin
    9. Well, then, are we better off? Not entirely, for we have already brought the charge against Jews and Greeks alike that they are all under the domination of sin,

    10. as it is written:
    "There is no one just, not one,
    11. there is no one who understands,
    there is no one who seeks God.

    12. All have gone astray; all alike are worthless;
    there is not one who does good,
    [there is not] even one.

    13. Their throats are open graves;
    they deceive with their tongues;
    the venom of asps is on their lips;

    14. their mouths are full of bitter cursing.

    15. Their feet are quick to shed blood;

    16. ruin and misery are in their ways,

    17. and the way of peace they know not.

    18. There is no fear of God before their eyes."

    19. Now we know that what the law says is addressed to those under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world stand accountable to God,
    20. since no human being will be justified in his sight by observing the law; for through the law comes consciousness of sin.

    III: JUSTIFICATION THROUGH FAITH IN CHRIST

    Justification apart from the Law
    21. But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, though testified to by the law and the prophets,
    22. the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction;
    23. all have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God.
    24. They are justified freely by his grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus,
    25. whom God set forth as an expiation, through faith, by his blood, to prove his righteousness because of the forgiveness of sins previously committed,
    26. through the forbearance of God--to prove his righteousness in the present time, that he might be righteous and justify the one who has faith in Jesus.

    27. What occasion is there then for boasting? It is ruled out. On what principle, that of works? No, rather on the principle of faith.
    28. For we consider that a person is justified by faith apart from works of the law.
    29. Does God belong to Jews alone? Does he not belong to Gentiles, too? Yes, also to Gentiles,
    30. for God is one and will justify the circumcised on the basis of faith and the uncircumcised through faith.
    31. Are we then annulling the law by this faith? Of course not! On the contrary, we are supporting the law.
     

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