This is the post number one in a series of posts with reaons to join a Bible-believing Church. The following posts on "Church Membership" come from David Cloud who got them from Dr. Bruce Lackey.
New Testament Christians joined a local church. The churches had membership lists, either in writing or in memory. Since the scripture was given for instruction in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16), God evidently wanted us to follow their example. Although there is no specific verse that says, "Thou shalt join a church," there are fifteen places that either require or teach by example that we should do so.
Reason #1: THE FIRST CHURCH HAD A MEMBERSHIP.
"And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,)" (Ac 1:15).
This Jerusalem church had a list of about 120 names that made up its membership. Even though the Bible says "about an hundred and twenty," it does not mean that there was any uncertainty. "About" is used commonly in scripture to designate a number, in keeping with the usual practice of that day, when people were not trying to be as specific as we are in the twentieth century. For example, John 1:39 says, ". . . it was about the tenth hour." It was not important in those days to know whether it was 9:55 or 10:05, since they did not have watches, clocks, etc. Likewise, John 6:19 says, ". . . rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs." Similarly, Acts 5:7 describes Sapphira coming to the church "about the space of three hours after." We must remember that the Holy Spirit inspired words that people would normally understand and speak, but this does not mean that He was uncertain! The events of John 1:39 and Acts 5:7 did happen at a specific moment, although that moment is not recorded. And the very mention of "the number of names" in Acts 1:15 shows that a collection actually existed, even though we are not told the exact number.
The important thing to note is not that there were 119, 120, or 121, but that there actually was a "number of the names together," in short, a membership of definite individuals who made up that church.
Reason #2 ALL THOSE MEMBERS ASSEMBLED TOGETHER ON PENTECOST.
Acts 2:1 says, "And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place."
The word all certainly indicates that a specific number was there. He did not say "a majority," or "several," but all.
Reason #3 SPECIFIC PEOPLE WERE ADDED TO THIS MEMBERSHIP ON THE DAY OF PENTECOST.
According to Acts 2:41, "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls."
Again, the word about has the same significance. The important word is added, showing that the number grew. Whether they were written down on paper is not the issue; the fact is that certain specific people were saved, baptized, and added to certain specific people! (This is interpreted by some to mean that they were added to the Lord, or to the whole body of Christ, but the context has been speaking of that group of 120, ever since Acts 1:15, and continues to speak of that earthly group which met together in Jerusalem, through v.47).
Reason #4 THE LORD ADDED PEOPLE TO THE LOCAL CHURCH.
"And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved" (Acts 2:47). This church was not the whole body of Christ (or the comprehensive church, or the universal church, or whatever the term one might prefer), but the local church, because of the context.
The word church must be interpreted by context. For example, no one would say that "the church in the wilderness" (Acts 7:38) was the same as the church in the New Testament, since the context clearly shows that it was the nation of Israel at the foot of Mt. Sinai. Likewise, Heb. 12:22-23 would obviously not be a local church, but "the heavenly Jerusalem," etc.
Context must determine meaning, and the context of Acts 2:47 is that of the church at Jerusalem. . . . Therefore, the church mentioned in Acts 2:47 is that church at Jerusalem that had just evangelized and baptized and was meeting in the temple and from house to house, teaching doctrine and breaking bread (vv. 41-46). And, in saying "the Lord added . . ." we conclude that He led these people to join that Jerusalem church, and gave the apostolic leaders of that church the terms on which the new believers were to be added.
Let me know what you think in the comment section. There will be more to come on this topic.