The best example of how a local church should operate comes from Acts 2:41-47, which says,
“So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any who had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”
From this passage we see that the local church kept track of who was part of the group; they ate together, studied the Scriptures together, and did life together, helping any of their brothers and sisters who had need. These are all things that cannot be done by the universal church, but rather must be done by the local church.
Furthermore, Hebrews 13:17 says, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”
- If there is no understanding of local church membership, then who are we to submit to and obey?
- If there is no understanding of local church membership, who would our pastors give an account for?
In 1 Corinthians 5:1-12, Paul speaks about the need for discipline from within the church, and even going as far as demanding the removal of a man who was living in open sexual sin. But that begs the question, “how can you kick someone “out” if there isn’t an “in?” Church Discipline – is its design to restore and repair relationships to Christ and others won’t work if local church membership doesn’t exist.
While Freshwater Church’s membership covenant helps define the relationship between members and the church, it is first and foremost a promise made to God as a commitment to his glory and his bride, the church (Eph. 5:25). (Further Reading: Hebrews 13:17, 1 Timothy 5:17, 1 Peter 5:1-5, Acts 20:29-30, 1 Corin 5:1-12, Matthew 18:15-17, Romans 12:5)
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