It is important to keep a church pure so in this article I want us to look at the requirements for church membership. Many churches have changed the biblical requirements. For some membership comes when one is baptized as an infant. For some it comes simply by being born in a family who is a member. Many today have totally done away with any requirements just so they can have a bigger crowd. If we want our church to remain pure we must hold to the biblical requirements.
In Acts 2:41 we are given two requirements for membership in the New Testament church. “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.” I find no other requirements.
First we see that one must first “gladly receive his word.” To gladly receive means to believe and accept what it says. John 1:12 tells us that those who receive the Word through faith receive the power to become the sons of God. “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:”. Those who gladly receive the Word of God, who believe what it teaches to be true and receive it by faith, meet the first requirement for church membership. They are born again and become sons of God. Salvation is the first requirement for church membership.
The second requirement is baptism. No one is saved by being baptized. Before one can be a proper candidate for baptism he must first believe. Listen to what Philip said to the Ethiopian eunuch when he requested to be baptized: Acts 8:36-38 “And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.”
He told him that he must first believe with all his heart. Believe what? He had just preached Christ to the eunuch from the book of Isaiah. His confession said he believed that Jesus Christ was the Son of God. The Bible clearly teaches that one is saved the instant he believes on the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31 “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”, John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. ).
The doctrine of baptism has always separated Baptists from the other denominations. Baptists have always believed there are four requirements for scriptural baptism. Without going into detail, here are the four requirements: 1) salvation, 2) a proper purpose (testimony, not regeneration), 3) a proper mode (immersion), 4) a proper authority (a New Testament church). I will cover these in more detail in other articles.
Once these requirements for church membership are met one becomes a member of the New Testament church. Keeping these requirements in mind there are usually three methods of receiving members into a Baptist church: 1) salvation and baptism, 2) letter of transfer, 3) statement of faith.
One final thought on church membership. Hebrews 10:24-25 gives us the importance of church membership: “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” The practice seen in the New Testament assume that a faithful Christian will unite with a church where they can receive instruction, serve together with others, and find fellowship and encouragement.
Copyright 2017 Pierre Coovert, All rights reserved