(ABC of Church membership)
The local church is a physical gathering of believers for spiritual growth. God instituted the church for this singular reason. There is no believer who does not have a specified, well-crafted place and space in the body of Christ. Therefore the essence of this teaching is so that we all can take our place.
What is the Body of Christ?
In Matthew 16:13-19, Peter had a revelation of God in Christ Jesus, and Jesus said unto him thou art blessed!
“And Simon Peter answered and said, thou art Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 16:16-17).
There is a blessedness that goes with the revelation of God as revealed in Christ. “And I say ALSO unto thee, that thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gate of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt.16:18).
The word, “also” is an important word in Christianity (others are: like, through, in, in union with, together with, of) They can be referred to as prepositions which describe our identification with Christ. The word “also” means “like this manner”, “in the light of this”. The believer ought to see himself in the light of the revelation of Christ – the believer is an offspring of the revelation of Christ. You are by identification in a bona-fide member of Christ’s Body.
“That thou art Peter” Peter (GRK:Petros) meaning a rock, which describes stability. Though Peter in some instances (Matt 16:22) didn’t show he was stable but Jesus Christ still referred to him as being stable because God always sees us in the light of what we truly are not in the light of our mistakes or what we do.
The revelation of identification gives us a true picture of who we are. “And upon this rock I will build my Church” means upon this revelation I will build my church. “And the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” – this has been accomplished in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ and so should not be a prayer point for believers!
“And I will give unto thee the keys …” Vs. 19. The word “keys” here refers to “access”. Jesus used Peter in these verses as a typology of the church. So Jesus meant, He would give unto the church access to the kingdom. We have been given that access because we believed the Gospel (Rom. 5:2; Eph.2:18).
Let’s explain this further by looking at what Jesus said to his disciples “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”( Jn. 14:1-3).
Vs. 2 – Mansions (Grk- mone) meaning “dwelling place”. “I go to prepare a place for you” – this He did through His death, burial and resurrection. “I will come again and receive you unto myself” – He did this also through his indwelling Spirit. Where He is, is where we are now. Through believing in His death, burial and resurrection, we have become members of the body of Christ (Eph 1:16-23).
The Body of Christ is a dwelling place for believers. There is a place in Christ Jesus where all of God is in all of us and all of us is in God. This place is referred to the body (ie the Church) Eph. 1:22-23. So the church is the body of Christ. Eph.2:1 – “And you” – He is talking about you! The church is about you. There is a place in God for you, and that place is the body of Christ. The day you made Jesus the Lord of your life, you became a member of the body Christ (Rom 10:9-10).
Now the fact that you have a place does not mean you have taken the place. Taking your place in the body of Christ is a matter of choice. It is not automatic. Membership into the body of Christ has been given to us on a platter of gold but the proof that you are a member of the body of Christ is that you take your place. The church is sanctified, washed, glorious, spotless, without wrinkle, Holy, without blemish (Eph. 5:25-32; Rom. 12:1; Song of Solomon 4:7).
“That thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God…” (1 Tim. 3:15) is the same as saying, “That thou mayest know how to take your place in the body of Christ.”
What then is Taking Your Place in the Body of Christ?
“Taking your place in the body of Christ simply means being a member of the local church.” The proof that you are a member of the body of Christ is that you are a member of a local church. The local church is not man’s idea, but God’s idea. Taking your seat in a local church is activating your space in the body of Christ. The local church is a family that we belong (Ps. 68:6).
Just as Christ manifested God physically, the local church is a physical manifestation of the body of Christ. The body of Christ is spiritual. So not being a member of a local church is not giving substance to the reality of the body of Christ.
The ABC of Church Membership
A- Attendance is required – Attendance implies that there is a physical gathering. This is not vague; it is not virtual (cyber or social media Church). Our physical gathering gives credence to our spirituality. Yes, the Spirit within the believers qualifies them to be members of the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12: 13) but our physical gathering gives expression to this reality. In the book of Acts, it is noteworthy that when the church was birthed, automatically the local church began (therefore, being a member of a local church should go simultaneously with salvation).
Hence, the local church is a physical gathering of believers (Acts 2:41-47; 4:23;6:1-5; 8 – 9; 13, 19).
Regular attendance of the meetings of a local church is important – This must be done with determination, discipline and consistency. A believer must attend to actively participate and not merely as a spectator. There must be readiness to take notes as the Word is being taught ( This is a sign of learning and it also helps you to follow up on what you have learnt). Hands must be lifted up and mouths opened as songs are being sang. In Acts chapters 2 and 4, the believers gathered together, prayed together and were filled with the Spirit together.
How to Identify a right local Church:
- Is God’s Word (which centred on the death and resurrection of Jesus ) taught there?
- Is the love of God demonstrated there?.
- Do they make reaching the lost with the gospel an emphasis there?
To be continued