Thoughts on the Church 1

Matthew 22:29 But Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God. 30 “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 31 “But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God: 32 ‘I AM THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, AND THE GOD OF ISAAC, AND THE GOD OF JACOB ‘? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”

Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. 28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper.

If you believe what you like in the gospel, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself. (Augustine)

Matthew 23:15 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.

In reading the words above I am struck again at how different the Bible is than modern Churchianity. While the Bible speaks of sin and false religion with great seriousness, it is not that way in our day. The Bible speaks of sin as against God, but men in our day speak of sin as something that harms people. The Bible speaks of all things as if God is the center and purpose of all things, but men in our day speak of men as the center and purpose of all things. The local church becomes the focus of all things as if it is through the church that grace is given.

The Bible speaks of the Church as the very body of Christ. It does not speak of the church as an institution that has a tax-exempt status. The Bible speaks of the Church as the very body of Christ, but it does not speak of the church as being the very body of Christ. The Bible speaks of the Church as having saved sinners as the very members of the body much the same way as a hand is a member of a body, but it does not speak of the church as being made of a membership. The Bible speaks of the Church as being a pillar of the Truth, but it does not speak of the church as having men or creeds as the standard of Truth.

The Bible speaks of God electing sinners to being part of the Body of Christ, but it does not speak of men electing themselves to be in a membership of a church. The Bible speaks of all in the body of Christ as believers, but it does not make that assertion about those who have membership in a church. If the Pharisees could travel on land and sea to make a proselyte, yet in doing so that proselyte became twice the son of hell as themselves, then perhaps we should be far more careful regarding what it means to be part of the true Church.

There are books that have been published today about church membership. That may or may not be fine, but the issue should be just how biblical is it? We find no biblical testimony that people must become members of a local church. We do find clear biblical teaching that regeneration is the sovereign work of God and it is not according to the will (choice) of any man. One would think that the fact that regeneration is a sovereign work of God would weigh on how membership is viewed. One would think that the fact that the Gospel is a Gospel of grace alone would weigh in on how membership is viewed. However, it appears that membership is viewed along Arminian lines and is more in line with free-will than sovereign grace.

People are now told that they are sinning when they will not join a local church. Really? Where do we find that in the Bible? Where is anything at all like that in the Bible? Is it a sign of unbelief that a person will not join (in the modern sense) a local “church” in our day? Surely people are confusing the body of Christ with the local church when they make such statements. This is closer to Roman Catholicism than it is with the Bible. Roman Catholicism used to teach that one had to be in communion with Rome to be a Christian at all. In modern America we have Protestant “churches” teaching that one must be part of them to be thought of as a Christian. All this time I thought a person had to be part of Christ to be a Christian. It is understandable (sort of) for Rome to say that, but it is not understandable for a Protestant to say that. Being on the membership role of a local professing church can be more of a sign of unbelief than true faith. If a local church does not preach the true Gospel, how can it be a church at all? Is it sin not to join a place that does not preach the Gospel of grace alone? No, it is a good thing.

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