Local church membership and responsibility

The Christian and local church membership.

Php 1: 1  Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons:
Php 1: 2  Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Php 1: 3  I thank my God in all my remembrance of you.

I do believe that all local churches are made up of saints, and possibly elders and deacons. This is the design of God.

In Acts 2 we find that God was adding to the church those who obeyed from the heart the gospel call, those who believed and repented were baptized, and with their baptism they were added to the saved. (Acts 2: 37- 47)

And so we read in Philippians 1, that the church in Philippi was made up of saints, overseers and deacons. This was a local setting.

We also read in 1 Peter that the elders were to feed the flock which was among them.

 1 Pe 5: 1  So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed:
1 Pe 5: 2  shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly;
1 Pe 5: 3  not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.

Overseers were to feed the flock who was among them.

When we look at the early church, they were made up of saints, elders and deacons.
Shepherds were to oversee the church that was among them.

This means, I believe, that local churches had a structure.
And that structure is important to us.
And the structure is that the local church had members, elders and deacons.
And they were to function in a God given way.
Let us explore that more by the words following.

Every member has a responsibility to do her or his part.

 

Eph 4: 15  Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,
Eph 4: 16  from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

From this passage we learn that individual members of the local church are to work properly so that the body can build itself up in love.

In 1 Corinthians 12 we learn that the church is like a body, in this passage the apostle Paul is speaking to a local church.

1 Co 12: 11  All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.
1 Co 12: 12  For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.
1 Co 12: 13  For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
1 Co 12: 14  For the body does not consist of one member but of many.
1 Co 12: 15  If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body.
1 Co 12: 16  And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body.
1 Co 12: 17  If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell?
1 Co 12: 18  But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.
1 Co 12: 19  If all were a single member, where would the body be?
1 Co 12: 20  As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
1 Co 12: 21  The eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you," nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you."
1 Co 12: 22  On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,
1 Co 12: 23  and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty,
1 Co 12: 24  which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it,
1 Co 12: 25  that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.
1 Co 12: 26  If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
1 Co 12: 27  Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.

In this passage, verse 11, we learn how the Spirit has placed every member in its specific place.
And so it is important that members learn that the local church is a body in which each member is placed in a very specific place.

And that place, that has been given by the Spirit, is a place that is compared to a part of a physical body. In a physical body it is important that each member fulfills it’s role.
The heart, the lungs, the toes, ect.
Every part keeps on doing what they are called to do, and so the body functions.
And so it is in the spiritual body, every member is called to fulfill its role. And that can only happen if we are present and working members.

Paul also calls the members not have divisions in the body.
The same care needs to be given to all the other members as one gives to himself.

To me, all of this means that local churches are made up of individual members who need to take their role very seriously.
Taking that role very seriously requires that we are to meet with the saints, when the saints meet.

We are not to neglect our meetings.

 

Heb 10: 24  And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,
Heb 10: 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.

And so he writes to the church, do not neglect the meetings, but be present and stir one another up to love and good works.

Taken all these words into consideration, members of a local church should be committed to the local work, that is I believe their responsibility.

Further on this concept…………………………

As members of local churches, consider one another.

 

Php 2: 3  Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
Php 2: 4  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Php 2: 5  Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,
Php 2: 6  who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,
Php 2: 7  but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.

Php 2: 14  Do all things without grumbling or disputing,
Php 2: 15  that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,
Php 2: 16  holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.

From these two passages we learn that Christians were to look out for one another’s interest, not just for the interest of themselves and they need to do so without grumbling.

When reading these verses in context, we see that these verses are written to Christians in a local assembly, the assembly meeting at Philippi.

To them it is written, “let each one of you look not only to his own interest, but also to the interest of others”.

The church is a family and in this family we are to watch one another’s needs.
We need to look out for the interest of each other.

I believe this plays a role when we are discussing local membership.
We need to consider one another’s needs and we need to do this without grumbling or disputing.

What are we saying?
When we look at our next point, we see that love needs to be our major drive when we consider one another and even submission to one another.

Christians, submit to one another.

Eph 5: 15  Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,
Eph 5: 16  making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
Eph 5: 17  Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
Eph 5: 18  And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,
Eph 5: 19  addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,
Eph 5: 20  giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Eph 5: 21  submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

When we look at this passage we learn that in local churches we are to submit even one to another.

For God it is important that we are to submit to one another in the church.
Yes, Christians sometimes disagree, Christians sometimes have different thoughts, however submission to one another will take care off that.
Submission based on perfect love for God and for one another.

In our marriages we sometimes have to leave things, in order to keep peace and unity.
In the church it is no different, at times we need to leave things, and be submissive to one another to keep the unity in the bond of perfect peace.

In my time of working with churches I have witnessed that there is so much agreement on so many matters, but I also see slight differences between members and we need to learn to submit to one another and to keep unity in view as crucial.

It is there how we can learn who Christians are.

Joh 13: 34  A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
Joh 13: 35  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

Love is a verb and love at times means that we are to submit to one another to keep the unity.

Love as perfection between believers.

Eph 4: 1  I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,
Eph 4: 2  with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,
Eph 4: 3  eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Eph 4: 4  There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—
Eph 4: 5  one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
Eph 4: 6  one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

When we consider this passage we learn that in a local church we need to deal with one another in humility, gentleness, with patience bearing with one another in love.
And we are to maintain the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.

This means two things.
We need to help one another, and as we work together we come to understand that we are all different.

In marriage we all understand  that for the sake of the unity and peace of our marriages we have to consider the other and his or her needs as much as we consider our own needs.
And when we consider the needs of the other as much as our own we build a marriage that cannot be broken.
And so it is in the church, we need to consider one another and bear with one another.

In the church we are a family of believers and we learn to work together, taking into account one another’s needs.
We are to work towards that. However we all know that in that process certain things do not always go the way we wish.
However, at times like that we need to learn to bear with one another, in love.

Also, we need to work towards keeping the unity.
And that happens when we take into consideration.
 
1 Co 13: 1  If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
1 Co 13: 2  And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
1 Co 13: 3  If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
1 Co 13: 4  Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant
1 Co 13: 5  or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
1 Co 13: 6  it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
 1 Co 13: 7  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

And so we need to ask, am I doing my part in the local church?
Am I the one who is living according to Gods rule of perfect love and perfect submission?

It is even possible to understand all mysteries and to have all knowledge, but if there is not love, we are nothing.


Legitimate reasons.

As Christians we all understand that there are times when we are not able to visit the local assembly, whether on Sunday or a midweek meeting.

Sickness can keep us from meetings, and circumstances can keep us from being able to meet.

We all understand that there can be legitimate reasons, that we cannot meet with the brethren.

We sometimes deal with reasons that we all see as a legitimate reasons, however we do not always agree on what a legitimate reasons is.

Coming to our question at hand, can Christians of one local group go to another group and lend their helping hand.
To my knowledge this question is never dealt with in scripture, so we have to let ourselves be guided by the above principles to come to a good conclusion.

What I do say at this point is……………………..

Good communication.

Following the aspect that there can be legitimate reasons for Christians that they cannot meet with the saints, I believe that in all things we need to be strong communicators.
Whenever something happens that can or will cause us that we cannot meet with the brethren, it is important to communicate this.

The reason is, so that the local church knows what they can expect.

What matters to God?

Psa 133: 1  A Song of Ascents. Of David. Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!
Psa 133: 2  It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes!
Psa 133: 3  It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the LORD has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.

Unity is important to God, and we all have a role to play in unity.
Are we doing our part?

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