Church Membership: Its Blessings
L. E. Sloan
Since church membership is one with being in the body of Christ, being called out of sin into holiness, and being a child of God, the blessings of such membership must be many and to be very much desired. In spite of the fact that among religious people, as well as non-religious, it is a common saying that the church has nothing to do with your salvation, it is well to find out what God has to say about the matter in His word. Salvation of one's soul is the very essence of all that is to be desired by every devoted heart. If it be true that this salvation may be obtained out of the church, then of course, church membership is of little, if any, value. In almost all the letters addressed to the churches by the apostle Paul, we find him saying that they were in Christ, thus showing that church membership was the same as being in Him. Now, Jesus himself taught a lesson on the importance of contact with Him and no possible life without it. He said that the branch cannot survive outside the vine, and He is the vine (Jno. 15:1-6). Paul taught that salvation is IN Christ (2 Tim. 2:10). Acts 2:47 says that the Lord added those who were saved to the church, all of which adds up to the fact that there are no saved people outside the church, that there is no life or salvation to be enjoyed outside of contact with Christ and only those who are in the church are in Christ, thus in contact with Him. Not only does strength and life come from that contact with Him here, but our hope for eternity depends upon our being IN the Lord--in the church here. Paul says that in Christ we have hope beyond this life (I Cor. 15:19-22). Also we read, "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord..." (Rev 14:13). There is no blessing promised to those who die out of the Lord--out of His church.
Again, one of the greatest blessings that any human being enjoys is the privilege of going to God in prayer. However, did it ever occur to you that the privilege of prayer belongs only to those who are in God's family--the church? Yes, that is a startling statement in view of the fact that universally men are taught, even while in their sins, to call upon God in prayer. Sinners are urged from the pulpit, over radio and TV to kneel at the altar of prayer, kneel beside the radio or TV, fall upon their knees anywhere and find Jesus Christ. Without impugning the motives of those who so urge sinners or the sincerity of those who accept such a plea, we must point out that such a scene is foreign to the Bible way of doing things. There is no example of any of the Lord's preachers of the gospel ever commanding, or even encouraging, people who wore not members of the church--not children of God--to pray for anything. Now, there were some very splendid occasions on which they could have done such a thing had it been the will of the Holy Spirit who was guiding them, but such instructions are conspicuous by their absence. No such activities as aliens praying at the altar or mourners bench were encouraged or recorded by New Testament writers. When the apostle Peter preached the first gospel sermon in the name of an exalted Christ as recorded in Acts 2, and that great multitude of people were convinced that they had crucified God's son, and being convicted of their sins asking, "What shall we do?", this would have been a most opportune time for the Spirit to have said through the apostle, "Fall down upon your knees and pray for God to save you." But this was not the message of the Spirit. Instead, he said, "Repent, and be baptized for the remission of sins." There is no efficacy of prayer while one is yet in his sins.
"Repent and pray", "Pray without ceasing", "Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name", are all expressions made to those who are children of God--those who are in the Lord's church
To be in Christ is to be in His church. The same thing that makes one a Christian, makes him a member of the body of Christ-- the church (Gal. 3: 26-21; I Cor. 12: 13). One must be in Christ to be saved. Therefore one must be in His body in order to be saved. All spiritual blessings are to be enjoyed in Christ. To be in Christ is to be in His church. Therefore, to enjoy all spiritual blessings. one must be in the Lord's church ( Eph. 1:3) . Are you a member of the body of Christ? If so, you know full well the meaning of the blessings that this membership affords. If not, you need to become a member of the Lord's church that you too, may enjoy the spiritual blessings here and entertain the hope of eternal life in the world to come. Is there anything more important to you or to your family than this? Why not give some serious consideration to these things before it is too late?
Truth Magazine VII: 10, pp. 14-15