Entrance into the Church / Assembly
It has been established that the universal church, and the church age, began in Acts 2, on the day of Pentecost. From Pentecost on, as each individual was saved he became a “member” of the body of Christ. Beyond this universal membership the Bible knows nothing of becoming an official member of a particular local ekklhsia.15
Individual Christians could choose to fellowship with the Believers of any local assembly available to them. They were received into fellowship by the elders of a local assembly after examination of their spiritual standing with the Lord. This process could be expedited by a letter of commendation from the leadership of another local congregation (Acts 18:27; Rom. 16:1; 1 Cor. 16:3; II Cor. 3:1). The professing Believer was allowed to remain in fellowship as long he was not involved in gross sin or heretical doctrine. If these situations arose he was subject to local church discipline. If unrepentant, he could be judged by the leadership and put out of fellowship (Matt. 18:17; 1 Cor. 5:9-13).
Being received into New Testament fellowship was not synonymous with the modern concept of official church membership. A Believer’s reception allowed him to partake of the Lord’s Supper and be involved in other aspects of the local assembly. It did not convey upon him legal and/or voting rights over the affairs or finances of the local assembly.
15 Lewis Sperry Chafer and John F. Walvoord, Major Bible Themes (Grand Rapids: Academie, 1974) p. 238.
Copyright 2008 by Joe Fogle. All rights reserved.