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A Biblical Perspective on Church Membership
Selected Scriptures
October 19, 2014

A few days ago, I went though a file in one of my cabinets and I found an old copy of the “Grace Bible Church Membership Qualification Examination.”

As I read it, I thought, “maybe this is why some people have delayed joining GBC…” A few selected questions from the exam follow. (It should be noted that there was a four-hour time limit for the examination.)

HISTORY. Describe the history of the papacy from its origins to the present day, concentrating especially but not exclusively on its social, political, economic, religious, and philosophical impact on Europe, Asia, America, and Africa. Be brief, concise, and specific.

PUBLIC SPEAKING. 2,500 riot-crazed Aborigines are storming the room. Calm them. You may use any ancient language except Latin or Greek.

BIOLOGY. Create life. Estimate the differences in subsequent human culture if this form of life had developed 500 million years earlier, with special attention to its probable effect on the English parliamentary system. Prove your thesis.

PHYSICS. Explain the nature of matter. Include in your discussion an evaluation of the impact of the development of mathematics on science.

PHILOSOPHY. Sketch the development of human thought; estimate its significance, and compare with the development of any other kind of thought.

GENERAL KNOWLEDGE. Describe in detail. Be objective and specific.

EXTRA CREDIT. Define the universe. Give three examples.

In truth, the application for membership and the process are somewhat easier than that old exam.

Church membership can be something of a contentious issue. Some have come out of a legalistic background and are grateful to be freed from those trappings. And others have come from churches were they have seen a tragic misuse of power and authority — leadership being used in the wrong ways for the wrong reasons — and they are hesitant to join a church. And others have said (correctly), “there is no verse in Scripture that either commands us to join a church or describes the process of church membership, so we shouldn’t have to join a church to be part of it.

As Keith and I think with you about some of the needs related to the church, and particularly as we plan to address the topics of church discipline and marriage and some proposed changes to the constitution in the coming months, it seemed fitting to address the topic of church membership early in the series.

As we consider this topic, my essential premise is that

Church membership is the normal practice of all churches and all believers.

As we consider this topic, I want to take you on a survey of the Scriptures, starting broadly with the nature of the NT church, then narrowing down and showing you that there was a form of membership practiced in the NT, and then talking about how and why we practice church membership at GBC.

  1. Membership in the Universal Church
  2. Membership in the Local Church
  3. Membership in Grace Bible Church

Download the rest of this sermon on A Biblical Perspective on Church Membership.

The audio will be posted on the GBC website later today.