What it means to be a church member, part one

2 May

What is someone committing to when they commit themselves to a local church?

One way to answer that question is to look at the early church.

Specifically, in Acts 2:42-47, we see when someone became a member of the early church, they made four basic commitments.

I get that from the word devoted.

Luke says,

“They devoted themselves to…” 

The word devoted means to be engaged in and to persevere in something.

It’s the opposite of apathetic or casual.

An apathetic person is like if it happens, it happens, it is not really an issue to me either way, where a person who is devoted to something, says this is going to happen and Luke is saying, when these believers were added to the church, they took that seriously and made an intentional and deliberate commitment to certain priorities, and these priorities, became their normal way of living.

And the very first of those priorities was learning from the teaching of the apostles.

To be part of the church means you are committed to being someone who really, really wants to learn from God’s Word.

That’s how I understand the phrase, the apostle’s teaching.

What is the apostles teaching that they devoted themselves to?

“We find the answer to that question” as someone has written, “in the rest of the book of Acts, and in the rest of the New Testament, because all of that was written by the apostles or those who worked with them. It’s also found in the entire Old Testament, because that was the inspired Scripture the apostles studied and taught from…So the apostolic teaching is everything contained in the Word of God.”

And obviously, in this early church, that Luke’s describing, they had this awesome opportunity, because they had the apostles right there with them at first, and so when someone was added to the church, they made it one of their top priorities, to go to wherever the apostles were and sit under and submit themselves to what the apostles said, which, even though we are living a couple of thousand years later, we are actually still seeking to do today, as a church, even though we can’t go somewhere and hear the apostles preach in person any longer, and you can’t, just so you know, these apostles are in heaven, but we devote ourselves to their teaching, by continually giving ourselves to studying God’s Word.

That’s why we say at one of our big goals at our church is that we would be a teaching church.

You see I don’t think it’s an accident that this devotion to the apostle’s teaching comes first, in this list.

Everything else hangs on it and flows from it.

Are we faithfully and accurately teaching and preaching God’s Word?

 And I know I often mention this, but one of the reasons I mention it so often, is because we are living in a culture, where many people don’t think of learning from God’s Word as an important part of being a member of a church.

 And I know that because they are joining themselves to places that aren’t committed to biblical teaching and preaching.

If you asked people to make a list of things they thought were important in a local church, learning and teaching, truth and doctrine, might be way down on the list, in fact, it might not even be on some people’s list of what makes a good church, but the reality is, if you had asked, the early church, what they thought they were supposed to be doing, this would have been the first mark of the true church, the first characteristic that distinguishes a true church from one that is false, and that is the right preaching of God’s Word.

Which is why when you join our church, when you are added to this number, one of the first, most basic things that means, is that you are making an intentional and deliberate commitment to the priority of the teaching and preaching of God’s Word. If you are a member of this church, it needs to matter to you, that the Word of God is being taught.

You are saying, I want to learn.

I don’t want to just go somewhere and sit there and have someone say all kinds of nonsense about what they think about life, I want to be part of a group of people who are continually being taught what God’s Word means and how it applies to their lives.

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