“Church Membership Is Important”
1.Membership is evidence of what you are
2.Membership is evidence of what you receive
3.Membership is evidence of what you believe
4.Membership is evidence of what you achieve
1 Corinthians 1:3-10 (3) Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (4) I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, (5) that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge, (6) even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, (7) so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, (8) who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. (9) God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (10) Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. (NKJVTM)
Dear members of Grace Lutheran Church,
In the past year there have been a number of membership changes here at Grace. In Voters meetings we’ve had to address many members who have not attended here regularly for quite some time. We continue to address these situations because we know the devil continues to lead people astray from Christ and His Word. At the same time we’ve had the joy in the past couple of years to instruct new members, even having a few adult baptisms along the way! It’s always exciting to add new members to our congregation! We welcome you into our midst and we pray that you will enjoy our blessed fellowship with one another, a fellowship that is richly blessed in that we are joined together with a special bond, the connection of our Lord Jesus Christ. That’s something special. All of us who are members of this congregation are bonded together in a like-minded faith. We are all to remember that CHURCH MEMBERSHIP IS IMPORTANT.
First, your church membership is important because your MEMBERSHIP IS EVIDENCE OF WHAT YOU ARE. You are a Christian. You have been baptized in the name of our Triune God. You have thus put on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Gal. 3:26-27: For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. (27) For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
You have been called into fellowship with Him. Brought together into one.
1 Cor. 1:9: God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Just like a gardening club has gardeners. A tennis club has tennis players. A chess club has chess players. A choir has singers. Such is the case with a truly orthodox, Bible-believing church. A church like ours is a group of Christians. And that’s what your membership gives evidence of … that all of us have been called to faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
A church which receives into membership anyone and everyone who comes along is not a church that follows God’s Word and will. It becomes more of a social club in which anyone can join for any reason. That’s why instruction is so necessary to make sure everyone understands that Christianity is much more than that. Christianity is about sinners in need of God’s love. Christianity is about converted sinners who desire to follow the loving voice of their Savior found in His Word, the Bible.
That’s why Jesus declares:
John 10:27: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”
Yes, a true church is one that will teach this and welcome those sinners who find comfort in what their Savior did on the cross. That does not mean that being a church member automatically makes one a Christian. There’s always the danger of hypocrisy. That’s when people try to deceive and hide who they truly are. Such people are called hypocrites, saying they are a Christian when they really do not care about following Christ. Unfortunately there will always be hypocrites. That’s because we as human beings can only go by what people say they believe. We can’t look into hearts to see if there is faith. Only the Lord knows those who truly have faith in their hearts. That why Scripture says that “the Lord knows those who are His” (2 Tim. 2:19).
So when we as Christians desire to join a genuine, Christian congregation, we do so not because we think this will make us Christians. We do it because we are already Christians, having been called by the Gospel.
Secondly, your church membership is important because your MEMBERSHIP IS EVIDENCE OF WHAT YOU RECEIVE. And you receive something very glorious indeed by being a believer in Christ. Paul demonstrated that in our text to the members of the Christian church in Corinth:
1 Cor. 1:4-6: I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, (5) that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge, (6) even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you,
This congregation had its share of problems to deal with. They were having disputes with one another over who had been their best pastor. They were permitting unrepentant sin to go on without addressing it. They were getting drunk before taking the Lord’s Supper. These are just some of the problems they had. But despite it all, the Apostle Paul, their former pastor, was thankful. He was thankful for what the Christians in Corinth had received. They had received the knowledge of the grace of God. They were enriched by the Word of God. And their membership at Corinth gave evidence of that fact.
Back in those days Roman citizenship was a big deal. It was a great honor. People prided themselves on being such a citizen. Even in the United States there are many who still enjoy the privileges of being a citizen. But such citizenship cannot even come close to the privilege and honor of being a member of a truly Christian congregation.
Consider the comparisons: A citizen can receive human protection. But a member of a Christian congregation has divine protection. A citizen accused of some crime can receive his right to a fair trial. The member of a Christian congregation is declared “not guilty” at his trial before God for he is clothed in Christ’s righteousness. A citizen enjoys the use of roads and highways, even having them plowed when it snows. But the member of a Christian congregation enjoys the true roadway to heaven since he enjoys his faith in Christ who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. A citizen enjoys the privilege of having a good education in the ways of this world. But a member of a Christian congregation enjoys the privilege of having a spiritual education about the ways of this world and the ways of our God. A citizen can have water and food easily accessible in this country. But a member of a Christian congregation has the spiritual water and food to feed his soul, even finding such nourishment as is found in the Lord’s Supper before us today.
These are just some of the great blessings we receive by faith in Christ Jesus. And your and my membership in a Christian congregation gives evidence to the world that this is taking place.
Thirdly, your church membership is important because MEMBERSHIP IS EVIDENCE OF WHAT YOU BELIEVE. If you join either the republican or democratic party, you are showing others what you believe from a political perspective. If you join the National Right to Life, you are showing others about your belief about abortion. If you join the NRA (National Rifle Association) you are demonstrating your belief about guns. Membership in an organization is a testimony before others about what you believe. That’s why we need to be careful about what kinds of organizations we join. If our membership in an organization conflicts with what God says in His Holy Word, it is a bad witness to the world because we are saying by our membership that we agree with the organization’s unscriptural principles.
Our church membership is also evidence of what we believe. That’s why Paul says in verse 10:
1 Cor. 1:10: Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
We are to speak the same thing. We are to be of the same mind and judgment as to what Scripture teaches. We are to be united in our teaching, in our worship, and in our building of Christ’s Church throughout the world. United, not divided. That’s what true church membership is about. It is showing the world that we are united in what we believe. Because we are a church that holds fast to the sound teachings as they were originally taught, we are giving testimony to the world that this is what we agree with, not some other watered-down version of modern Lutheranism.
Yes, by your membership in a congregation you are giving evidence to the world about what you believe. You are saying to the world, “This is what I believe as opposed to what others believe.”Fourthly, your church membership is important because MEMBERSHIP IS EVIDENCE OF WHAT YOU ACHIEVE. You see, by being members you are taking a big step in declaring: “I desire to, and am going to, serve my Lord Jesus.” That’s the natural response of a Christian who has been impacted by the Gospel message of a Savior from sin. Just like a branch on an apple tree will produce apples, we are branches of the tree of Christ. We therefore will produce Christian fruits. We aren’t just to be warm bodies sitting in the pews. Our membership is evidence that we want to go beyond that. We want to achieve what the Lord has set before us in the Scriptures. After all, the Lord Jesus has sacrificed Himself for us. Will you and I not want to sacrifice ourselves for Him?
This is why the Apostle Paul is so thankful in this text to the Corinthians. He thanks them that they have received the grace of God
1 Cor. 1:7: so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, …
What a positive approach! Paul reminded them that they didn’t come short in any way for serving their Lord. Just like a carpenter will always have plenty of nails for the job, just as a baker will have plenty of flour to bake, just as a driver will have plenty of fuel to get to the next city, we as Christians do not come up short for what the Lord expects of us. We all have gifts.
One of the things about being a pastor is that discouragement can easily set in because of how the world often influences his flock. As with all walks of life, a pastor can begin to dwell so much on the negatives that he fails to see and thank the Lord for the positives. Paul in our text thanks the Corinthians for their fruits of faith being evident. So I too thank God for your fruits of faith which are evident. Thank you’s are always so difficult. Someone always feels slighted. But each of us has some fruit evident as we live our life of faith.
I am thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to instruct new members in the Scriptures. But it doesn’t end there. I am thankful that there are some of you who visit our shut-ins. I am thankful that there are trustees that are willing to be active in the upkeep of the building and the grounds. I am thankful that there are Elders who are willing to meet once a month to handle tough issues relating to our congregation. I am thankful we have a Board of Education which is very supportive of our Christian education here at Grace. I am thankful for our officers who take the task of serving as a great privilege. I am thankful that we have a group of Voters that are courageous enough to make tough decisions as well, discussing things openly and with respect for others. I am thankful that we have organists who serve willingly week after week. I am thankful that we have Sunday School teachers who are willing to serve and put in that extra time that is needed to prepare their lessons. I am thankful that many of our parents regularly bring their children to Sunday School and to Catechism classes. I am thankful that there are parents who faithfully encourage their children and help them with their memory work. I am thankful that there are parents who are very concerned about a Christian education for their children, sending their children to our Christian Day School and/or to Immanuel Lutheran High School. I am thankful for our Christian Day School teachers and all the volunteers that keep our school operating smoothly. I am thankful for all the children here, children who seem to appreciate the message they hear. I am thankful that there are families who have consciously considered and calculated what they are able to give in offerings to support the ministry at Grace. I am thankful that there are people who are at Bible Class week after week. I am thankful that there are some families who rarely miss a worship service. I am thankful that there are families who drive a ways to get here for church regularly. I am thankful that our communicants understand what a blessing it is to receive the Lord’s Supper to nourish their souls. I am thankful there are parents who desire to have their children baptized so that they become children of God. All these fruits are an inspiration to us all. Yes, I am thankful to serve this congregation and be your pastor, serving you with the regular message of Law and Gospel. That’s my service of thanksgiving for whatI see in you.
These are just some of the fruits of the Spirit that I am thankful to observe. Certainly all of you fit within many of these things. But not all of you fit all of these things. There is always room for improvement, especially when it comes to the regular hearing and learning of the Word of God at church and Bible Class. Does it grieve me when I see indifference toward the Word and when the cares and pleasures of the world pullsome away from it? Yes. But I will continue to preach and teach the Word of God to encourage such fruits.
Church membership is important. It gives evidence of what you are, namely a Christian. It gives evidence of what you receive, believe, and achieve. That’s why your membership at Grace Lutheran Church is such a great blessing. Never underestimate it. And never downplay the importance of such church membership. It is truly important. Amen.
Submitted by Pastor John Hein Pastor,
Grace Lutheran Church