Of the Church.
Chapter 26, Paragraph 2.
“…and of such ought all particular congregations to be constituted.”
Do you profess Christ? Aren’t promoting heresy? Not living in flagrant sin? Then you may be called a visible saint. It is those qualifications that we use to determine who is regarded as a Christian. As finite human beings, we cannot look inside our fellow man for proof of the Holy Spirit’s work. Only God knows for sure those who are His. Yet by their own profession, and evidence of good works, we can take those who say they hold to the gospel at their word.
These visible saints are to gather together in local assemblies. It makes sense that a church whose purpose is to glorify God should be made up of those who say they have been redeemed by Him and live for Him. Why would you accept someone as a member who had no interest in God? Why would you let someone join who led an unrepentant sinful life?
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. -John 1:12,13
If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. -1 John 1:6,7
Unfortunately, there are many institutions that are more than willing to claim such clearly unregenerate people as part of the church. For example, little Susie is a child of believing parents. She has never made a profession of faith, yet is considered part of the church. She does not claim to be a Christian, so why should she considered one? How about another example: Mark made a profession of faith years ago, then dropped out of the church and lives a worldly lifestyle. He has no interest in spiritual things, and only shows up with his family at Christmastime. However, he is still listed as a member of the church he joined all those years ago. Why should he be considered a visible saint when his life shows a disregard for Christ?
Churches ought to be composed of fellow elect believers. Membership of a church, therefore, should consist of those who affirm the gospel and walk in obedience to God’s commands. This way the church can most effectively glorify God.
Questions to Consider
- How qualifications does your church have for membership?