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New Horizons

October, 1996: Church Membership

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Contents

No Rolling Stones!

What is the church? What is the purpose of the church? What does it mean for me to belong to the church? These are perennial questions, and each generation of Christians needs to be ready with informed answers. That readiness is so essential not only because such answers are basic to our identity as believers in Jesus Christ, but also because in every generation wrong answers crop up—answers that in varying ways mislead the church and blur its identity.

A key New Testament passage about the church is 1 Peter 2:4-5. One way we may usefully reflect on its teaching is to note, in contrast, what the church is not. This passage, we may say, shows us that the church is not made of rolling stones (believers are not rolling stones!). That's true in two senses. Read more

Church Membership: Option or Command?

Can you sing this hymn ["I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord," by Timothy Dwight, from Trinity Hymnal] from your heart? It speaks warmly of Christ's love for his church—and of your love for it.

From God's perspective, the church involves all the saints of all ages (2 Tim. 2:19). From man's perspective, it involves visible, local assemblies of believers (and their children) who confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and submit to his Word. The New Testament church was visible and local (Matt. 18:20; Acts 11:26; 14:23; 20:17; 1 Cor. 1:2; Gal. 1:2; 1 Thess. 1:2) and it is in this sense that we use the word church here. Read more

The Fourth Membership Vow

"You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain" (Ex. 20:7).

"Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; therefore let your words be few.... When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; for He has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you have vowed" (Eccl. 5:2, 4). Read more

My Testimony

I was raised in a loving Christian home and brought up in an Orthodox Presbyterian church. At age fifteen, I began to rebel against my parents, and for many years I continued down that path. I became involved in drugs and immorality, and even ended up in jail.

Eight years ago, I began attending church again, and was even accepted as a member, but I had never truly had a change of heart. I just went through the motions—church attendance, Bible reading, prayer—but only because I felt these things were expected of me. I did not understand God's grace or salvation through Jesus Christ. Read more

 
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