“Can I Join The Church?”
by Mark Aites
On occasion I am approached by someone who wants to “join the church”. While I have no doubt of their sincerity, their request shows a lack of understanding about what the Bible teaches concerning being a member of the body of Christ.
What so many fail to realize is that only the Lord can add one to the church. On the day of Pentecost, when 3,000 souls rendered obedience to the gospel of Christ, the Bible clearly says, “And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved” (Acts , ESV).
When one does what the Bible teaches that must be done in order to be saved, the Lord does the adding, not man! The Bible requires faith (Hebrews 11:6), repentance (Luke 13:3, 5), confession of Christ (Romans 10:9, 10), and baptism into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts ). Buried with Him in baptism and then raised to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:3-7), we then are a part of the body of Christ by His divine authority having obeyed His commandments.
In many instances denominational churches opt to vote on whether one can be a part of a particular church. What if one is voted down? How embarrassing that would be! Do we read of voting in sacred literature? Definitely not!
The question one should ask is not, “Can I join the church?” but rather, “What must I do to be saved?” (cf. Acts 16:30ff). Joining suggests more the idea that they already consider themselves to be a Christian. If that were the case, and they have already rendered obedience to the gospel of Christ (having been members of the Lord’s church elsewhere), then they would signify to the church that they want to be recognized as members of the local congregation and under the oversight of the local elders. But be cautious! Some consider themselves Christians who have not truly obeyed what the Lord commands for salvation!
We must be careful that we follow the ways of God, and not those of man made religions. “Joining the church” is not a divine concept. Rendering obedience to the Gospel of Christ is! Let the Lord do the adding since He and He alone, possesses such authority.