Over the last several weeks, we have examined the proper characteristics of the Lord’s church. We have considered the name, birthplace, age, founder, law, organization, and worship of the church. As you have been reading and perhaps even considering where you attend, I hope you have been thinking carefully about all the principles brought out in these articles. The logical concluding point would be an examination of the proper terms of entrance.
The Bible is very specific regarding how one becomes a member of the Lord’s church. The conditions of membership are as follows:
- One must have faith (John 8:24; Hebrews 11:6).
- One must repent (Luke 13:3; Acts 17:30).
- One must confess Jesus as God’s Son (Matthew 10:32; Romans 10:10).
- One must be baptized for the remission of sins (John 3:5; 1 Peter 3:21).
At this point, God adds them to the church (Acts 2:47). Throughout their lives, Christians are required to be faithful to God in order to go to heaven (2 Timothy 4:6-8; Revelation 2:10). In Acts 9:26-28, Paul joined himself to the disciples in Jerusalem. There are a number of local congregations in the New Testament, and since there is no way for one to perform many duties in the universal church, a Christian must identify with a local congregation.
Some believe that they can just “show up” and they are a part of a church. Some religious groups may believe in this practice, but it is absent from Bible teaching. Furthermore, a lot of people believe that they can “join” a church or be “voted” into one. Still some believe that one can become a member of the Lord’s church by simply having faith, repenting, being baptized, or confessing the name of Jesus without doing all the others. However, as shown above, none of these “methods” are in agreement with the Bible. Therefore, can they be accurate or truthful?
In conclusion, consider the following example. A man sees a truck with the logo “UPS” and it travels into a tunnel. That same man will see the truck emerge from the tunnel with the same logo affixed to its side. The church went into the wilderness after the first century bearing all the marks we have referred to in these articles and it must come out the same way. No element of time, whether long or short, can change God’s will. Is the religious organization of which you are a member deficient in the elements we have surveyed? If it is, you ought to leave it, and find the group that replicates the Bible pattern. There always will be weaknesses in the human elements of the church; but there is a divine ideal, and towards that one must strive.
Would you think about this very seriously? And if you have not obeyed the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, do so with the greatest haste? As soon as you have reached a firm conviction about your spiritual state, and have an understanding about what the Scriptures teach, do not hesitate — obey the truth. You can then know, with confidence, that you are a genuine Christian. You will be a member of the church that is found in the New Testament — one that cannot be wrong, because it has the divinely-prescribed identifying traits.