The question has been asked of me, “Why should I place membership with the local congregation?”
This question can only be answered if one understands that they have obeyed what the Bible teaches on how one becomes a Christian. In Acts 2:38, we see that all those who repented of their sins and were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and received the Holy Spirit, were added to the church by God (Acts 2:41,47). This is where a person becomes a member of the church.
Now assume a person has obeyed the Gospel according to scriptures but then they move to a new area or maybe they obeyed the Gospel at church camp or while they were away at college. Why should they place membership with the local congregation?
First, it is biblical. Now the word “membership” is not found in the Bible, but the concept is there. In the New Testament, Christians are identified with the congregation they worshiped and worked with. In Romans 16 Phoebe, Prisca, and Aquila, as well as many others were identified with local congregations. This could be said of each congregation in the New Testament; writers wrote to each congregation which were identified separately, and individual members were identified with one congregation or another.
Another word for membership which is found in Philippians 1:5 is “partnership.” Paul was able to make a distinction from one congregation to another, as well as members because they had identified with the various local congregations.
Second, for involvement purposes. In Romans 12:4-8 and 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 Paul uses the human body as an example of how each member of the Body of Christ is to function. So, when a person “places membership” the elders of the church should help direct the new member in areas they can best use their talents.
Membership in the church is not like in a civic organization where one just pays dues and shows up to meetings. Church members are expected to do something for God, to teach, serve, lead, give, encourage, or a variety of other activities. It is important that Christians be involved in the work of the church and not just “pew warmers.” When a Christian “places their membership” with a congregation it helps the elders know who they can depend on, and call on, to help with the work of the church.
Third, it helps in building relationships. Membership is about relationships. The churches in Thessalonica and Athens began by people obeying the gospel and joining (consorted, KJV) themselves to Paul and the faithful brethren with him (Acts 17:4; 17:34). Meaning they “associate” or began to congregate together as a body of believers.
Fourth, accountability. Nowhere in the New Testament do, we see Christians being “church members at large” or not identifying with a congregation. In Acts 9:27-28 Saul later Paul was taken to Jerusalem and “identified” with the church in Jerusalem. Later in Acts 13:1-2 Paul “identified” with the church of Antioch. Even Paul who traveled greatly to carry out the gospel of Jesus Christ “identified” or “placed membership” with a congregation. Even in Acts 21:17-18 James is identified with the church in Jerusalem.
Also, how can a member “obey their leaders” and have them watch over you as we see instructed in Hebrews 13:17, if one has not placed membership.
Today many people visit and attend a congregation for a while before they “place membership.” If you are one of those individuals, and you have obeyed the gospel of Jesus Christ by repenting of your sins and being baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins (Acts 2:38). Then please go talk to one of our elders, they would enjoy talking to you more about you placing your membership with us at the Camden Ave. Church of Christ.
In Christ, Mark T. Tonkery
How many times have we sat back and just talked about doing something instead of just doing it?
Dr. J. B. Gambrel tells an amusing story from General Stonewall Jackson’s famous valley campaign. Jackson’s army found itself on one side of a river when it needed to be on the other side. After telling his engineers to plan and build a bridge so the army could cross, he called his wagon master in to tell him that it was urgent the wagon train cross the river as soon as possible. The wagon master started gathering all the logs, rocks, and fence rails he could find and built a bridge.
Long before day light General Jackson was told by his wagon master all the wagons and artillery had crossed the river. General Jackson asked where are the engineers and what are they doing? The wagon master’s only reply was that they were in their tent drawing up plans for a bridge. (Pulpit Helps, May, 1991).
Many times, we are like those engineers, making plans and talking about doing something yet never really getting the job done.
This is what people often do with their soul. Just talk about doing something: I will go to church one day, I make things right with God before I die, or several other excuses.
You know on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 when those three thousand heard they needed to repent and be baptized they immediately did it. The same with the Eunuch in Acts 8, Cornelius in Acts 10, Lydia and the Philippian Jailor in Acts 16. They all immediately were baptized once they heard the gospel of Jesus Christ.
If you believe in Christ is the Son of the living God and that He arose from the grave on the third day (Rom. 10:9,10) then why would you wait to be baptized? Why keep talking about it? Why keep thinking about it? Why keep waiting?
2 Cor. 6:2, states, “For he says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”
Today is the only day we may have to repent and be baptized; tomorrow may be to late. What is so important that you delay in becoming a Christian?
Ananias ask Saul later called Paul in Acts 22:16, “And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’” And Saul was baptized immediately.
So, what are you waiting for? Rise and be baptized. Written by Mark T. Tonkery
Paul the apostle wielded legitimate miraculous power. He told a man who was crippled from birth to stand up and “At that, the man jumped up and began to walk” (Acts 14:10). What would become of a man who could do that today? Who could just speak healing into existence? “You who were blind from birth – see!” And then the blind person looks around in amazement as she sees for the first time. Can you even imagine?
In our modern would I imagine there would be an enormous amount of skepticism at first. But as the stories added up and doubts faded could you imagine how famous the healer would become? How wealthy he could become if that’s what he wanted? There’s no doubt that at least some would believe this healer is just a little more than human. But be sure of this – if this healer accepts this praise and all this attention for himself, if he uses his ability to benefit himself by gaining riches and power, then he is no man of God.
Of course we know that no such healer exists today (even though some make the claim). There are, however, gifted speakers. There are talented businessmen, skilled athletes, people who are good at making money. All kinds of abilities exist that people use to direct the attention to themselves, to gain wealth and honor at every opportunity. But I want you to notice that Paul didn’t do that. The man who could do something more remarkable than any ability we see today refused to be praised. He wanted all the praise to go to God. After healing the cripple the crowd wanted to worship Paul and Barnabas as gods. I’m sure that would be tempting for some – but they wanted none of it. “But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting: ‘Men, why are you doing this?’” (Acts 14:14-15).
If those who could do miracles wanted all the praise to go to God, who are we to seek praise for ourselves? I don’t care what you can do – you can’t heal a guy who was crippled from birth. “It is not good to eat too much honey, nor is it honorable to seek one’s own honor” (Proverbs 25:27). Let’s take a page from Paul’s book. Give the credit to God. Give the praise to God. No matter what you do or what you can do be sure to direct attention away from yourself and toward the One who can do everything. That’s the honorable thing to do. That’s what true men and women of God have always done.
written by: Doug Wells
In was July 1975, I was only five months old and had no clue what was going on in the world, but the Camden Ave. Church of Christ was having Vacation Bible School. It was a five-day V.B.S. and according to the July 27, 1975 church bulletin, the average attendance was 630 people. The attendance for each night was: Monday 619; Tuesday 647; Wednesday 674; Thursday 613; and Friday 593.
Now compare these numbers to last year’s V.B.S. (2018). We have gone from a five-day V.B.S. to a three-day V.B.S. Our average attendance in 2018 was 143. The attendance for each night was Monday 133; Tuesday 146; and Wednesday 152.
Many people will look at these numbers and say, “Well a lot has changed in 44 years.” That is true. We live in different times, we have internet, cell phones, and laptop computers. Our cars have better gas mileage, our homes are more energy efficient, and over all we have more advancements in technology than we did 44 years ago. Along with this people have changed, there is less interest in spiritual things, congregations are closing their doors, and it is getting more difficult to find a faithful gospel preacher. But with all the differences and changes today we need to ask some important questions:
- Has the Bible changed? Mt. 24:35, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”
- Has the need for salvation changed? 1 Tim. 2:3-4, “This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
- Does what the Bible teach about the church change? Mt. 16:18, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
- Has God changed? Jm. 1:17, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”
- Has Jesus changed? Heb. 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
- Does what the Bible teach about how one becomes a Christian ever change? Act 2:38-39, “And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”
- Do people still die? Heb 9:27, “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,”
Although many things have changed over the past 44 years, the essential things of God have not changed. True, it may be more of a challenge to get people interested in spiritual things and the Bible, this does not mean that God’s word is any less important, it means we must work harder.
44 years ago, we had a great VBS, let us put forth a great effort to do it again! If we did it before we can do it again, it is just going to take a lot of effort and prayer!
Let’s invite our friends and family to V.B.S. July 8,9, and 10. Each night will start at 6:30 p.m. and dismiss at 8:00 p.m. See you and your friends there!!! In Christ, Mark T. Tonkery