For someone that professes to be a believer and reveals no fruits of the Spirit, does this mean they are not truly a Christ follower?
A: One of the key passages on what it means to be saved is Ephesians 2:8-10, where we learn that salvation is by grace alone. In other words, there is nothing we can add to God’s saving work through Jesus Christ. It’s all grace. But the second part of the passage tells us that we were created to do good works. A person who has been saved by grace is also changed by grace – for good works and good fruit. So can we call someone who has no sign of God’s work in his or her life a Christ-follower? Let me suggest that the answer is no. Undoubtedly, God saves people and knows who has been saved. You and I can’t know the deeper reality of God’s saving work but we can, according to Scripture, have a pretty good idea of a person’s spiritual state. It shows! That’s why Jesus said, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (John 15:8).
Is it important to become a member of the church?
A:Yes! It is important to become a church member. We live in a world that may seem to have “commitment-phobia.” In the words of wise church pastor, “commitment-phobia is the fear that in promising to do something good we will miss out on getting something even better.” For many of us, we hesitate or fail to make commitments because we want to “keep our options open.” We simply don’t want to be “tied down.”
But there are several reasons why church membership is important:
To Assure Ourselves - You are not spiritually saved by joining a church, but a church can help you be sure that you are saved. (John 14:21; 15:10,14; 13:17). Although salvation only comes by the grace of Christ through faith in Him, we can be assured of our salvation in Christ by the way we love others in a committed church relationship.
To Spread the Gospel - Have you heard the phrase “two are better than one”? Well, it’s biblical. Ecclesiastes 4:9 says: “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.” Although this is true in contexts, it is also true when fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 28:29-20). A church is a missionary organization, equipped by God to spread the gospel effectively. One of the most important reasons we can join a church is to share the gospel with other Christ-followers.
To Expose False Gospels - In the context of the church, we have the opportunity to show the world what true Christianity is. One pastor explains it this way: “We dispel the false notion that Christians are nauseatingly self-righteous people who are worried that someone somewhere might be having fun, and who believe, above all else, in their own goodness. This is how many non-Christians think of Christianity. We can combat that false image by having a church that is not marked by such an attitude.” As a church, we have the opportunity to believe in the true gospel of Christ and covenant to live in such a way that we expose the false gospels of the world.
To Edify the Church - God created people with a longing for togetherness and to function in community. Joining a church will help Christ-followers be encouraged and sharpened by one another. Being a committed member of a church also allows us to counter the wrong trends of individualism in our world.
To Clarify Responsibility - Every church has a pastor. This is by God’s design. Hebrews 13:17 says: “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” Becoming a church member formalizes the relationship between a church participant and a church leadership. Just as a man and a woman formally marry or an employee and a boss sign a contract, church participants and church leadership should also enter an agreement of relationship called a “membership covenant.” A membership covenant allows you to know what is expected of you and what you can expect from your church leadership as a member of the church. It also clarifies these details for church leadership. At the conclusion of this membership class, you will have an opportunity to take verbal vows before the congregation on a Sunday morning to formalize this membership covenant.
To Glorify God - “Our lives together are to mark us out as His (God’s) and are to bring Him (God) praise and glory.” When we humbly submit to God’s design for community with other believers in a church and to its leadership, we are proclaiming: “It’s not about me!” We glorify God by humbly acknowledging that we cannot grow spiritually alone and we need the help from others because they have unique, contributing gifts. As Christ-followers, I have something to give, and so do you. Join a church to glorify God by submitting to God, sharing your gifts, and receiving the benefits from others’ gifts.