The Value of Church Membership
It is easy to be a part of a group in our day. Everyone wants you. You only have to visit a few websites online before you are prompted to join up for more benefits with a username and password to get more great information. At school there are the athletic associations, the religious associations, the cliques. In politics there are the democrats, the republicans, the independents, the conservatives. If it’s not a union at work, it’s conversations about “them” and “us”, if all is well there, it’s not too long before we are tagged by our friends for a great opportunity in multi-level marketing. Then there is the Church. You have heard of the man found on a deserted island after several years…giving his rescuers a tour of his island he identified 3 buildings: This is my house…..This is my church…..This is the church I used to go to……
Peter’s Grand Confession “You are the Christ, the Son of God” prompted Jesus to declare “And I say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” Jesus did not place His high authority on Peter, but on His great confession: You are the Christ, the Son of God”…..
Later, at the close of Romans 16 we get a window into the life of the early Church….through this window it is my prayer that we will see the power, the beauty and the majesty of the church and we’ll be prompted to act like a church.
1. God Builds His Church Through People.
1 I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church in Cenchrea. 2 I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been a great help to many people, including me. 3 Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus. 4 They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them. 5 Greet also the church that meets at their house. Greet my dear friend Epenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in the province of Asia. 6 Greet Mary, who worked very hard for you. 7 Greet Andronicus and Junias, my relatives who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was. 8 Greet Ampliatus, whom I love in the Lord. 9 Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and my dear friend Stachys. 10 Greet Apelles, tested and approved in Christ. Greet those who belong to the household of Aristobulus. 11 Greet Herodion, my relative. Greet those in the household of Narcissus who are in the Lord. 12 Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, those women who work hard in the Lord. Greet my dear friend Persis, another woman who has worked very hard in the Lord. 13 Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too. 14 Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas and the brothers with them. 15 Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas and all the saints with them. 16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ send greetings.
We could replace those first century names and put in many of your names…..like
Marlin and Jan Robins.
Who came to Bethel Temple some 20 years ago asking…can we be in ministry here? And play they did…and gave…and gave…of their time, their talent, their tithe, their love. Marlin serves as a board member. Rarely a Sunday goes by that you don’t see Marlin and Jan in ministry….as you know Jan has a new job with SERTA in Lockhart and this is their last Sunday.
Later, in Ephesians Paul declared God’s Purpose for the Church…..
11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
Oswald Chambers observed:
Christianity is in its essence social. When once we begin to live from the otherworldly standpoint, as Jesus Christ wants us to live, we shall need all the fellowship with other Christians we can get. Some of us can do without Church fellowship because we are not Christians of the otherworldly order. Immediately a man dares to live on Jesus Christ’s line, the world, the flesh and the devil are dead against him in every particular. “The only virtue you will have in the eyes of the world as My disciples,” says Jesus, “is that you will be hated.” That is why we need to be knit together with those of like faith; and that is the meaning of the Christian Church.
God builds His Church Through People…..
Why Else is Church Membership Valuable? Look at verse 17.
2. God Warns His Church About People
17 I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. 18 For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people. 19 Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I am full of joy over you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil. 20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.
3. God’s Grace is Sufficient….For People
The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. 21 Timothy, my fellow worker, sends his greetings to you, as do Lucius, Jason and Sosipater, my relatives. 22 I, Tertius, who wrote down this letter, greet you in the Lord. 23 Gaius, whose hospitality I and the whole church here enjoy, sends you his greetings. Erastus, who is the city’s director of public works, and our brother Quartus send you their greetings. 25 Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, 26 but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him— 27 to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.
Later In Ephesians Paul described the ideal resulting from that High Purpose in Ephesians 4
27 and to present her to himself as a Glorious church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
We need YOU…..right before the day of Pentecost, the disciples met to discuss who would be the 12th apostle……Jesus had declared greater things than these shall you do because I go to my father, having ascended to heaven, waiting for the promised Holy Spirit, these men understood they had a mission….they were small in number, but they had spent time with Jesus.
You may say this morning, it’s time to take my commitment to another level! I’m ready to be a member at Bethel Temple, by standing you would say I have made a decision to be a part of this church, I’ll get to one of those meetings, I want to be a part of this thing.
Oswald Chambers and Dave McCasland, The Quotable Oswald Chambers (Grand
Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishers, 2008), 42.