Reason #11 TROUBLE-MAKERS CAME FROM INSIDE AND OUTSIDE THE CHURCH.
Paul warned, “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” (Acts 20:29)
Their dangers would come, not only from “grievous wolves” outside, but from men “of their own selves.” Some were outside the church; some were in. Again, this is obviously a membership.
Reason #12 THE CORINTHIAN CHURCH WAS COMMANDED TO EXCLUDE SOME BRETHREN.
“But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat” (1 Cor. 5:11). This eating could not refer to ordinary meals, since the Lord Jesus ate with publicans and sinners (Mat. 9:10). It must refer to eating at the Lord’s table.
He likewise says, “. . . put away from among yourselves that wicked person” (1 Cor. 5:13). This could not mean to stop associating with, or speaking to, such a person, because a parallel passage in 2 Thes. 3:14-15 says, “. . . note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.”
It would be impossible to admonish him if they never associated with or spoke to him. To “have no company” must mean church company or fellowship, preventing him from the privileges of membership (holding office, voting, partaking of the Lord’s supper).
Reason #13 THERE IS NO WAY TO EXERCISE CHURCH DISCIPLINE UNLESS THERE IS A MEMBERSHIP.
Matthew 18:7 instructs the church to consider an unrepentant brother as a “heathen man and a publican.” How would this be done? Certainly not by denying him access to the meetings!
We would most assuredly want heathen people to attend our services and hear the preaching of God’s Word. 1 Cor. 14:23-25 shows the importance of this. Neither could it mean to stop speaking to the person. Christians should definitely speak to heathen people; how else could we win them to Christ?
But, a church could not permit a heathen to be elected as one of its officers, or preach, or teach, or vote on church matters, or partake of the Lord’s Supper. Therefore, to say that only certain people are eligible to hold office, etc., is to designate a membership.
Reason #14 1 COR. 6:1-11 DISTINGUISHES BETWEEN “THE UNJUST . . . THE SAINTS.”
Paul spoke of “a wise man among you (who) shall be able to judge between his brethren” (v.5). He rebuked them for going to law before the “unbelievers” (v.6). These brethren were called a church in 1 Cor. 1:2. Some people were known to belong to the church, some were not.
Reason #15 1 PET. 4:17 DISTINGUISHED BETWEEN “THE HOUSE OF GOD” AND “THEM THAT OBEY NOT THE GOSPEL.”
When we remember that the “house of God” is the local church, according to 1 Tim. 3:15, it becomes obvious that those who had obeyed the gospel were in a church. Whether or not their names were written on some list is unknown and unimportant; what is obvious is that they knew who was in the church.
The point is that we have no instance of New Testament believers refusing to belong to a local church. Joining the church was the normal thing to do, after conversion. The person who has settled the matter of salvation as the Bible shows us should then be baptized, following Christ’s example and command, and join a Bible-believing and Bible practicing church.
Let me know what you think of these posts in the comment section.