I can't say that I agree, fully, with Pastor Reid's commentary today. Of course I agree fully that we should be able to call upon our brothers and sisters in Christ in time of need, especially when they are closer to us in proximity. But I don't agree that the Bible emphasizes the local church, but rather the whole, single body of the Church. If the Bible emphasized the local Church, then why did Paul spend so much time writing letters to Churches in other locations? Why did he not focus more on the congregations in his local area?
The answer seems obvious to me. Because to God the whole Church matters. 1 Corinthians 12 talks about how we are all one body and one spirit. So to look upon the Church as a bunch of different and separate gatherings of believers, we begin to divide the body and we begin to become respecters of men. This is a serious thing to become respecters of men. Especially respecters of men inside the body of Christ. James 2 speaks very harshly of those who are respecters of men, it says they commit sin and are "convinced of the law as transgressors". (verse 9)
This is the main reason why I will not become a member of any particular local assembly. Because to do so will give me a reason to think more highly of my brothers and sisters in my own assembly and less highly of my brothers and sisters in another assembly. This is especially true of the varying denominations. Everyone who is a born-again Christian, regardless of denomination, is my brother or sister in Christ and I should respect one as much as the other, even if I disagree with some of their ideas about scripture. Heck, I disagree with nearly everyone on some point or another, even in my own assembly. But we are all one body and one spirit and we all have one Saviour. I will not more strongly yoke myself to one part of my body than I will to another part of my body. I believe to do so is to go against the warning in James 2 and I will be committing sin.
One final thought on why I disagree with formal church memberships is that not only does joining a church separate me mentally and spiritually from the more distant parts of my body (in other true believing churches and denominations) but it even separates me from the closer parts of my body in my own assembly. When a church has a required membership, often what happens is that members are allowed to take part in ministry and the Lord's Supper, where non-members, even if those non-members are faithful, long-time attendees of the church, are not given those same opportunities. Talk about being respecters of men! To deny a born-again believer the Lord's Supper, to me is a very great and abominable sin. I understand that you don't want non-believers to be managing things in the church, and I understand that you must be able to trust the people who you are assembling with, but does trust come just because someone is a member? I know of many churches where the members are some of the most superficial, godless men and women I know. They put on a good face at church, but at home they live like the devil. Membership/separation of the saints is not a foolproof safeguard against such situations and as much as I've listened to and considered the arguments for formal church membership, I just can't see where God's Word approves of it, especially given the harsh tone of James 2 regarding such things.
But I understand that this is a popular practice today. I deal with it the best I can, but I don't have to take part in it. I am happy to support and participate in the local assembly. I enjoy it and I try to be faithful to it. But my allegiance lies with Christ and the Word of God first and foremost and I must be true to His Word, do as He commands, and not stray from it. So you'll not see me on the membership rolls of any local assembly, unless you consider a phone roster a membership roll.
Here is today's text:
1 Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.
2 Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.
3 A stone is heavy, and the sand weighty; but a fool's wrath is heavier than them both.
4 Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?
5 Open rebuke is better than secret love.
6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
7 The full soul loatheth an honeycomb; but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.
8 As a bird that wandereth from her nest, so is a man that wandereth from his place.
9 Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man's friend by hearty counsel.
10 Thine own friend, and thy father's friend, forsake not; neither go into thy brother's house in the day of thy calamity: for better is a neighbour that is near than a brother far off.
11 My son, be wise, and make my heart glad, that I may answer him that reproacheth me.
12 A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished.
13 Take his garment that is surety for a stranger, and take a pledge of him for a strange woman.
14 He that blesseth his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, it shall be counted a curse to him.
15 A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike.
16 Whosoever hideth her hideth the wind, and the ointment of his right hand, which bewrayeth itself.
17 Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.
18 Whoso keepeth the fig tree shall eat the fruit thereof: so he that waiteth on his master shall be honoured.
19 As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man.
20 Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.
21 As the fining pot for silver, and the furnace for gold; so is a man to his praise.
22 Though thou shouldest bray a fool in a mortar among wheat with a pestle, yet will not his foolishness depart from him.
23 Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds.
24 For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation?
25 The hay appeareth, and the tender grass sheweth itself, and herbs of the mountains are gathered.
26 The lambs are for thy clothing, and the goats are the price of the field.
27 And thou shalt have goats' milk enough for thy food, for the food of thy household, and for the maintenance for thy maidens.
You can read the entire 31 daily Proverbs devotional series by clicking here.
Do you know, if you were to die today, whether or not you'll go to be with Christ after you die? Are you 100% and completely assured of your salvation? If not, please take the time to read this salvation message today. There is nothing more important than giving your life to Christ and securing your place in eternity. I pray the Holy Spirit leads you to a personal relationship with Christ today, and I pray that you follow where the Holy Spirit leads you.