Bible Basics: Church Membership

By Earl Robertson

Does the . Bible teach anything about membership in the church of Christ? If it does say something about this matter, we should be able to find it. Do men and churches teach the same thing about this that the Bible teaches?

The Bible teaches that the church of Christ is the body of Christ (Eph. 1:22, 23; Col. 1:18, 24). It also teaches that one is baptized into the body (1 Cor. 12:20). The conversion of the Jews on Pentecost (Acts 2) illustrates this truth. The apostles preach Christ unto the assembly and the people become convinced through the preaching that they are sinners. They make inquiry as to what they must do for salvation. They are told, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins . . .” (Acts 2:38. Peter further exhorted the audience to “save” themselves by obeying what he had preached. “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41). This was the apostolic way for church membership. In fact, Luke says, “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:47).

Church membership, in the times of the apostles, was simply accomplished-people obeyed the gospel and the Lord added them to the church. This time-honored and God-given plan has not changed. We are aware, however, that many churches today give no respect to the Lord’s way in this matter! One church manual says, “The churches therefore have candidates come before them, make their statement, give their `experience,’ and then their reception is decided by a vote of the members. And while they cannot become members without baptism, yet it is the vote of the body which admits them to its fellowship on receiving baptism” (Hiscox Manual, p. 22).

So, an experience of grace must be told to some church and the members listen to it to decide if the person is saved or lost, then cast their votes for making the individual a member of the church! Wonder where this doctrine originated? Did it come from God or man? Friend, it is a man-made doctrine. It is different from what the Bible says about church membership. What church voted to either accept or reject the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26ff)? The eunuch did not experience what modern man says happens today. The eunuch heard Christ preached and he obeyed. The Lord added!

Truth Magazine XXII: 34, p. 554
August 31, 1978