Text: Ephesians 2:19-22

Introduction: Belonging to the visible church is not optional for followers of Christ. We are not disembodied people who only meet spiritually. We gather and belong to a physical, tangible, and visible community—that is the church.

Church hopping or church scrolling is what many Christians are doing today on the average weekend. The 2022 State of Theology study found most Americans (56%) don’t believe every Christian has an obligation to join a local church. Only half among the evangelicals and churchgoers believe that Christians need to be church members.

Background: Written for the church in Ephesus by Paul during his imprisonment in Rome. Church membership has been the practice of the disciples of Christ in biblical times.

Main Idea:

  1. Citizens [sympolites/ politeo]
  • “Strangers and aliens” have no full rights and privileges in a place where they’re not a citizen compared with those who are citizens. Illustration: embassy of a country.
  • Your salvation is affirmed and endorsed by the church. Salvation is an individual experience with God but it is through the church that your experience is validated.
  1. Family [oikos] Members of the household of God
  • Nicodemus in John 3 asks, “How can I be part of the family of God?”
    • You need to be saved, to be born again (3:7). Conversion is required.
    • Moreover, baptism follows as the confirmation of your public confession that you follow the faith that we have in Christ.
  • Only those who are Christians, truly converted, can belong to the church. Anyone can worship and come to the church every Sunday. But only Christians can be a member of the church.
  • Once you follow Christ and accept Him as your personal Lord and Savior, your conversion experience testifies as your passport to becoming a family member of the household of God.
    • All Christians have been adopted to the family of God.
      • Ephesians 1:5, “he[a] predestined us for adoption to sonship[b] through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will”
      • Romans 8:15-17, “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.[a] And by him we cry, “Abba,[b] Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”
      • Galatians 4:4-7, “But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.[a] 6 Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba,[b] Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.”
  1. Presence of God – Holy Temple and dwelling place for God’s Spirit
  • Creation in the Garden of Eden – Pillars of Fire and Clouds during the time of Exodus – The Ark of Covenant – The Tabernacle – The Temple
  • The Church as the temple means that the presence of God is made visible through the church.
    • 1 Corinthians 3:16, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?”
    • 1 Peter 2:4-5, “As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” // Jesus in Matthew 18:18-20

Frequently Asked Questions?

What happens if we do not become members of the local church?

  1. We are disobeying the command to gather regularly (Hebrews 10:24-27)
  2. We confuse both real members and non-Christians about what it means to be a Christian.
  3. We become dishonest. (uninvolved, inactive church members, 1 mos; 3mos; 6mos-1 year)
    1. How can we love someone we do not see regularly?
    2. The opportunity to bless and be blessed.

How to be a member of the local church, UCBC?

  1. You need to be a Christian. (Ask the Elders if you have not received Christ yet).
  2. A baptized believer (Baptism affirms your confession)
  3. Membership and Covenant Classes (Understanding what it means to be part of the church/ Elders)
  4. Confirmation of the local congregation.

Conclusion:

The point is not that attending church makes you a Christian. The point is that becoming a member of the church is what Christians do.

 

Rev. John Paul Arceno

UCBC New Jersey
October 22, 2023

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