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Bible Questions with Michael Pearl
Episode 033: Is there scriptural support for church membership?

By Michael Pearl

Episode Transcription:

Michael Pearl:  All right. If you haven't tuned in before to our Bible Questions, this is Mike Pearl. During the wintertime we sit indoors and answer your questions. But during the summertime, Jared's going to have to chase me around with a camera because I'm going to be out in the gardens, and out fishing, and different things like that. So you'll get to see a little bit of what we do here in Tennessee as we answer your Bible Questions. Now, Jared has been receiving questions from you from the computer and from the mail. So he's going to read some of them, and I'm going to answer them. I have no idea what questions he's going to ask. So Jared, what have you got today?

Jared:  Is there any Scriptural support for church membership?

Michael:  Yup, there's absolute Scriptural support for church membership. But what I mean by that answer and what you meant by the question are two different things. In the Bible, we find in the Book of Acts it says, "And there was added unto the church daily such as should be saved." Now who was it that was adding them to the church? It was the Lord Jesus Christ. And what is the church? That's the question. Now if by the church you mean an institution like something that's got a 501(c)(3) designation, and is organized into a business format or there's property held in common through a board, then yeah. You join it because you control the property. You're a property owner.

But if you're talking about by the church, the body of Christ, which in the Bible is an organism not an organization. What do you mean by an organism? In other words, it's a living body made up of fingers, the Bible says, and eyes and ears. He said, "In the body there's many different members, but there's one body."

In another place He gives an illustration. He said, "We're all one bread." In other words, each of us is a grain of wheat ground into one loaf of bread. According to the Scriptures, in each city there was just one church.

When Paul wrote to the Romans, you'll read in the last chapter of Romans, he said, "Greet those who are in Pricilla's household." Then he named a half a dozen different homes there, and they were meeting in those homes having their church services. Now, God didn't recognize multiple churches inside of a city. He only recognized the church in that city.

For instance, to the church which is at Ephesus, to the church which is at Thyatira ‑‑ Revelations Chapter Two and Three‑‑to the church which is at Smyrna, to the Thessalonicans, to the Corinthians. In other words, in Thessalonica the city, there was only one church.

That was Christ's body. It was an organism. It was a living group of people bound together by the Holy Spirit, baptized by the Spirit of God into Christ's body becoming a member of his bone and of his flesh ‑‑ Ephesians, Chapter Five. Here in our community where we live, from a human standpoint you'd say there's a dozen churches. But from God's standpoint, there's only one church.

Now there's some buildings that I've never been to, and I don't go there because they wouldn't want me there. I don't go there because they have a different doctrinal slant on some things, and they don't come to my church building.

But you know, when I meet those people in work or out in the community I treat them just as much as a member of my church as anybody anywhere. I love them as part of the body of Christ, and I cherish them. If they have a hospital bill, I help them with it, if I can. If they have a garden needs plowing, I plow their garden.

When I greet them, I greet them warmly as I do any Christian anywhere because they are members of Christ's body, of his church, just as I am. So I love those people just as much as I do the people that I meet with on a daily basis.

So our little group we call The Church at Cane Creek. You notice the name on that? The Church at Cane Creek? That's because our little gathering represents the church, which is located at Cane Creek. Now that's a biblical definition for a church, like the Church in Memphis, the Church in Nashville.

So according to God, there's only one church in Nashville, one church in Memphis, but probably divided into 400 or 500 different denominational groups. Now I'm not for an ecumenical endeavor to bring all the people together into one group. That would be great, but the only thing that will cause that to happen is persecution.

If the church is ever persecuted, then we won't care whether somebody is pre‑tribulational, mid‑tribulational, or post‑tribulational. We won't care whether they believe in sprinkling or immersion for a water baptism, or what kind of church headship they believe in ‑‑ whether it's a pastor, elders, a presbytery, or an apostle, or whatever they want to call it.

We'll all come and function together as one, ministering to each other and caring for one another as we should be all along. So can you join the church? If you recognize it as a human institution that you want to be part of the ownership of the property and have a say‑so in the affairs, yeah. But don't think that's Christ's church.

Now it's part of his church. His church is there in that organization, but that's not His church. You joined His church when you believed on the Lord Jesus Christ and got saved.

So there's a difference between man's church and God's church. A Baptist church, a Methodist church, the Presbyterian church, the Lutheran church, the Roman Catholic church, all those are man's churches. They're man's designations. Even the Church of Christ or Christ's Church, that's man's church when they give it that name.

But there's one body, one fellowship, one calling, one Lord, one baptism. And all of us who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ are part of that by the Spirit of God, not by some name appearing on a church role.

Announcer:  If you would like to ask a Bible question, email us at [email protected] or call at 931‑805‑4820.

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3 comments on “Is there scriptural support for church membership?”

  1. Well Mike, I normally enjoy your down to earth counsel, but I sure lost respect for your Bible knowledge on this subject. It is so full of suppositions I wouldn't know where to start. Keep leading people to honor the Lord, but don't take for granted your conclusions on the Church. Hope you come to the knowledge of the truth in that area.

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