Entrance into the "universal church" is accomplished by the Holy Spirit as He applies the work of Christ in a person's life, regenerates his or her spirit, and baptizes him/her into the "body of Christ". The physical representation (or sign) of this entrance into the "universal body of Christ" is through the ordinance of water baptism by immersion that pictures the death, burial, and resurrection to new life in Christ. Therefore, baptism by immersion is the "profession of faith" we find in the NT rather than the "walking down an aisle" that we so often associate with this.
The outworking of one's "membership" in the universal body of Christ is represented by one's "membership" in a "local congregation or assembly" of believers through full participation in the life of that local congregation.
Being a church member comes with responsibilities rather than rights. And, all those who desire to "join" our local congregation must understand and commit themselves to fulfilling these responsibilities. Here are a few:
- Every member is responsible to believe the gospel and live out the implications of the gospel in every arena of life under the Lordship of Jesus through the indwelling presence and enabling power of the Holy Spirit.
- Every member is responsible for being baptized by immersion as a testimony of one's faith in Jesus and entrance into the body of Christ.
- Every member is responsible to give time, talent, and treasure to the mission and well-being of his/her church.
- Every member is responsible to participate in the life of the church--gatherings, Lord's Supper, exercising spiritual gifts, ministries, outreach, etc. unless providentially hindered.
- Every member is responsible for his/her role in the Great Commission.
More to come in the next installment in this series.