Why Church Membership? Church Discipline

For the sake of Church Discipline

If we have not availed ourselves to the hard privilege of church discipline (as necessary), can we truly say we have submitted to God’s ruling in and through His church?

Of course, if your church does not practice church discipline, this point is moot. And, I might add, your church may not be a true church in the first place.

“Church discipline is rarely done in the modern church, and because it is rarely done, when it is done, it is rarely done well. As with everything, we have to turn to the Scriptures for guidance and protection.

‘I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. ‘Purge the evil person from among you.’

A moment’s reflection shows the need for discipline. In a fallen world, sin will seek to corrupt anything of value. When sin begins to work, the one in a position to discipline has a choice to make. Discipline is inescapable. At that point, we will either discipline the sin, or we will discipline the righteous. But as long as the antithesis between the two exists (which is to say, throughout history) we must choose one way or the other. (Jay E. Adams, Handbook of Church Discipline (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1986).

Scripture does not just command the discipline. We find in the Bible five basic reasons to practice church discipline. Not surprisingly, these biblical reasons for disciplining usually anticipate and answer some of the most common objections.

First, we are to discipline to glorify God –our obedience in this matter glorifies God. We know that God intends discipline for His church (, , , , , , , , , , , ). God tells us what to do, and because we are His people we are called to do it. This answers the objection, “Who do you think you are?” We do not discipline in our own name, or on our own authority. The Bible says that our good works (when defined by Scripture) glorify God ().

Second, we are to discipline in order to maintain the purity of the church. If we measure the “success” of discipline by whether or not the offender is restored, we will be forced to conclude that sometimes it “doesn’t work”. But if we see other things accomplished by means of discipline, our perspective changes. Conducted biblically, church discipline always purifies the church (). It also prevents the profanation of the Lord’s Table (). This also answers the common objection against the faith–“too many hypocrites in church.”

Third, we are to discipline to prevent God from setting Himself against the church. If we have a choice to distance ourselves from sin, and we choose rather to identify ourselves with it, then what will a holy God do? We see that God will come Himself and discipline a church which does not willingly follow Him in this ().

Fourth, we are to discipline in an attempt to restore the offender. We are not promised that the offender will be restored, but this end is nonetheless one of our goals. This rationale is clearly set forth in Scripture (, , ). This purpose answers the objection that “discipline is harsh and unloving.” The goal is not to destroy the offender; the goal is a confrontation in which we formally protest the fact that the offender is destroying himself. Discipline is an act of love.

And fifth, we are to discipline to deter others from sin –the Bible teaches that consequences for sin detor others (, ). The objection here is that “people sure wouldn’t want to mention any of their spiritual problems around those elders!” But the issue is always impenitence, and if someone is intending to continue in sin impenitent, then he had better not mention it to any of the elders. But if he struggles against sin, as all of us do, then he will find nothing in church discipline except an aid in that struggle.

What does biblical discipline look like once it has been implemented? Many misunderstand what is actually being done in discipline. Discipline is not shunning or avoiding. It is rather avoiding company on the other’s terms.

The most obvious result is that the one disciplined is refused access to the Lord’s Supper, as well as the general communion which that Supper seals. But the offender is not being denied kindness, courtesy, opportunity to hear the word preached, the duties owed to him by others, or anything else due him according to the law of love. He is merely denied one thing: the right to define the Christian faith.” ~ Douglas Wilson, Mother Kirk: Essays and Forays in Practical Ecclesiology, (Canon Press, 2001), 158-159.

15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. (ESV)


Listen

17 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. (ESV)


Listen

5:1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.

For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.

Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” (ESV)


Listen

14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. (ESV)


Listen

Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. 10 For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. 11 For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. 12 Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.

13 As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good. 14 If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. 15 Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother. (ESV)


Listen

20 As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear. (ESV)


Listen

If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, (ESV)

13 This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, (ESV)

15 Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you. (ESV)

10 As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, (ESV)

“‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. (ESV)

14:1 Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven like the roar of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder. The voice I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps, and they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. It is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins. It is these who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These have been redeemed from mankind as firstfruits for God and the Lamb, and in their mouth no lie was found, for they are blameless.

Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.”

Another angel, a second, followed, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who made all nations drink the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality.”

And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.”

12 Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.

13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”

14 Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and seated on the cloud one like a son of man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand. 15 And another angel came out of the temple, calling with a loud voice to him who sat on the cloud, “Put in your sickle, and reap, for the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe.” 16 So he who sat on the cloud swung his sickle across the earth, and the earth was reaped.

17 Then another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. 18 And another angel came out from the altar, the angel who has authority over the fire, and he called with a loud voice to the one who had the sharp sickle, “Put in your sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, for its grapes are ripe.” 19 So the angel swung his sickle across the earth and gathered the grape harvest of the earth and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. 20 And the winepress was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress, as high as a horse’s bridle, for 1,600 stadia.

15:1 Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and amazing, seven angels with seven plagues, which are the last, for with them the wrath of God is finished.

And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mingled with fire—and also those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands. And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying,

“Great and amazing are your deeds,
O Lord God the Almighty!
Just and true are your ways,
O King of the nations!
Who will not fear, O Lord,
and glorify your name?
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come
and worship you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed.”

After this I looked, and the sanctuary of the tent of witness in heaven was opened, and out of the sanctuary came the seven angels with the seven plagues, clothed in pure, bright linen, with golden sashes around their chests. And one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever, and the sanctuary was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one could enter the sanctuary until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished.

Revelation 20

20:1 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while.

Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.

And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, 10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (ESV)

16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (ESV)

Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (ESV)

27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. (ESV)

14 But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality. 15 So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16 Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth. 17 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’

18 “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: ‘The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze.

19 “‘I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. 20 But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. 21 I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. 22 Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, 23 and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works. 24 But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden. 25 Only hold fast what you have until I come. (ESV)


Listen

15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. (ESV)


Listen

you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. (ESV)

6:1 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. (ESV)


Listen

11 Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil. (ESV)


Listen

20 As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear. (ESV)

Why Church Membership? Being Set Apart

Anyone can attend a church gathering. Anyone. So what should set Christians apart from unbelievers? If unbelievers can attend every Sunday Service, Sunday School class, Wednesday prayer time, special services, and other activities, then what should set the true believer from the rest? Quite simply: membership. I believe membership demonstrates the love and care for each other that is commanded in Scripture.

A part of the demonstration of this love and care is church discipline. If you have not submitted yourself to the leadership of your church through membership (hereby displaying a selfless act of sacrifice), then you have dismissed yourself from the love and care demonstrated via church discipline, if indeed, the need arises for church discipline.

But church membership allows for a deeper relationship experience with others of like mindedness (other members). Membership affords the privilege of getting into each other’s lives, regardless of how messy it can possibly be. It affords the opportunity to come along side each other more intimately and help teach, reproof, correct, and train in righteousness.

Membership demonstrates the ultimate selfless act you can do simply because you say, “I am committed to you. I will love you as Christ has loved you. As the Gospel is the ultimate display of selfless and reckless ambition, I will demonstrate this same Gospel to you by my committing to you in membership.”

How else can you demonstrate your love for God’s people? Let the Gospel not only reign true in your life, but let it reign as your reality- the reality demonstrated in membership.

Why Church Membership? Fellowship

We cannot be completely obedient to all of Scripture if we are not intentionally and covenantally pursuing deep fellowship with one another in general, but also inter-generationally with older and younger people.

In other words, in order to be obedient as Whole-Bible Christians, we must commit ourselves as a member of a local body so that we can practice intergenerational discipleship. This means, we must be pursuing the hard work of getting to know someone older and/or younger than us. Then and only then, are we able to obey many of the intergenerational commands in Scripture.

Further, to deny others the privilege and responsibility of pursuing fellowship with you (and others) can be a form of disobedience.

Leaving a church because “no one talks to me” simply shows that not only are the others at that church disobedient but so are you. One-anothering is a two way street.

Bible passages essential for us to understand and develop healthy relationships by knowing we are called to One Another:

  • Love one another: ; ; ; ; ; ; : 5
  • Serve one another: ; ;
  • Accept one another:
  • Strengthen one another:
  • Help one another:
  • Encourage one another: ; ; ;
  • Care for one another:
  • Forgive one another: ;
  • Submit to one another: ;
  • Commit to one another:
  • Build trust with one another:
  • Be devoted to one another:
  • Be patient with one another: ;
  • Be interested in one another:
  • Be accountable to one another:
  • Confess to one another:
  • Live in harmony with one another:
  • Do not be conceited to one another:
  • Do not pass judgment to one another:
  • Do not slander one another:
  • Instruct one another:
  • Greet one another: ; ;
  • Admonish one another: ;
  • Spur one another on toward love and good deeds:
  • Meet with one another:
  • Agree with one another:
  • Be concerned for one another:
  • Be humble to one another in love:
  • Be compassionate to one another:
  • Do not be consumed by one another
  • Do not anger one another:
  • Do not lie to one another:
  • Do not grumble to one another:
  • Give preference to one another:
  • Be at peace with one another:
  • Sing to one another:
  • Be of the same mind to one another:
  • Comfort one another:
  • Be kind to one another:
  • Live in peace with one another:
  • Carry one another’s burdens:

34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

John 15:12

12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

John 15:17

17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another. (ESV)


Listen)

10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

Romans 13:8 (Listen)

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.

Romans 14:13 (Listen

10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

Romans 13:8 (Listen)

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.

Romans 14:13 (Listen)

13 Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. (ESV)


Listen)

12 and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you,

1 Thessalonians 4:9 (Listen

12 and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you,

1 Thessalonians 4:9 (Listen)

Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, (ESV)


Listen

We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. (ESV)


Listen

22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, (ESV)


Listen)

11 For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

1 John 3:22 (Listen)

22 and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.

1 John 4:8 (Listen)

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

1 John 4:7 (Listen)

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.

1 John 4:11-12 (Listen

11 For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

1 John 3:22 (Listen)

22 and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.

1 John 4:8 (Listen)

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

1 John 4:7 (Listen)

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.

1 John 4:11-12 (Listen)

11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. (ESV)

1:1 The elder to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all who know the truth, because of the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever:

Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, in truth and love.

I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father. And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it. For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward. Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, 11 for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.

12 Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete.

13 The children of your elect sister greet you. (ESV)

13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Galatians 5:21

21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (ESV)


Listen

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. (ESV)


Listen)

Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.

1 Peter 5:5 (Listen

Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.

1 Peter 5:5 (Listen)

Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (ESV)

Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

Romans 15:14

14 I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another. (ESV)

19 So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. (ESV)

13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

Hebrews 10:24

24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, (ESV)

19 So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.

Romans 15:14

14 I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another. (ESV)

16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (ESV)

11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. (ESV)

13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

Hebrews 10:24-25

24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (ESV)

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (ESV)

32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (ESV)

13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. (ESV)

21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. (ESV)


Listen

Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (ESV)

16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. (ESV)

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. (ESV)

10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. (ESV)

with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, (ESV)

13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. (ESV)

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (ESV)

21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. (ESV)

16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (ESV)

16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. (ESV)

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. (ESV)

13 Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.

Romans 15:7

Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. (ESV)

11 Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. (ESV)

16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you. (ESV)

16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you. (ESV)


Listen

10 I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. (ESV)


Listen

12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. (ESV)

14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. (ESV)

16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (ESV)

24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, (ESV)

25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (ESV)

20 All the brothers send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss. (ESV)

24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, (ESV)

with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, (ESV)

32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (ESV)

14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. (ESV)

26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. (ESV)

Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices (ESV)

Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. (ESV)

10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. (ESV)

18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. (ESV)

19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, (ESV)

16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.

Romans 15:5

May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, (ESV)

18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

1 Thessalonians 5:11

11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. (ESV)

32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (ESV)

13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. (ESV)

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (ESV)

Why Church Membership? Our Leaders

Why Church Membership? For The Sake of our Leaders

“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.”

Submit in covenantal humility to let our leaders lead us with joy and not with groaning, for that would be no advantage to you.

Allow your leaders to know for whom they will give an account to God. Help make their leading be with joy and not groaning.

17 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. (ESV)

Why Church Membership? The Gospel

– “And being found in human form, he, that is Christ, humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

– “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”

What is one of the greatest expressions of humility we can make? How can we express our identity with Christ and His humility to its fullest extent? Christ’s expression of humility is still evident because He rose bodily from the grave and He is seated (physically) at the right hand of the Father. We can express the Gospel by following Christ, Who became a member of humanity, by becoming a member of His body via Church Membership in a local body of believers.

And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (ESV)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (ESV)

Why Church Membership? Accountability

Accountability is getting help in taking responsibility for our actions.

Accountability is comprised of listening (), humility in relation to others sins and faults () with the thought, “if not for the grace of God, there go I,” demonstrating love because God loves us, and Whoever loves God must also love his brother. ( , )

What greater expression of true accountability than to purposefully covenant with others for the sanctification of each other?

True accountability allows people the freedom in sharing their circumstances and provides the feeling of total acceptance without fear of rejection. Why? Because God has completely and unashamedly accepted us in the beloved ().

We are accountable to God (, )

We are one body in Christ (ff)

gives a helpful principle, “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” If your accountability friend has done something contrary to the Bible, you are called to confront him gently, forgive him, and comfort him. It also admonishes you to consider yourself because no one is above temptation.

says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” says to, “…encourage one another and build each other up…”

How do I know you truly are placing yourself under accountability if you have not demonstrated your covenantal commitment to such a serious endeavor? Specifically expressing this accountability within the bounds of church membership?

19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; (ESV)

7:1 “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. (ESV)


Listen

21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. (ESV)

19 We love because he first loved us. (ESV)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. (ESV)

12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. (ESV)

13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (ESV)

12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. (ESV)

6:1 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (ESV)

24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, (ESV)

11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. (ESV)

Why Church Membership? Humility

Note: In short, read the book Humility: True Greatness by CJ Mahaney for a popular yet fuller treatment of Humility.

This is a short treatment of why I believe church membership is a biblical practice. Yes, Scripture does not explicitly command membership. However, implications of the five reasons addressed leave no other conclusion but church membership. This is a rough draft and certainly not complete in thought, but the intent and conclusion should be evident. The overarching question to consider while reading is, “Am I truly living humbly before God as He desires me to live? Am I humiliating myself as Christ humiliated Himself even to the extent of becoming a member of humanity and ultimately dying for all who believe in Him- even the death on the cross?”

My simple aim is to demonstrate the biblical necessity for church membership. The details regarding church membership are beyond the scope of this tiny series. Once we have established the biblical necessity for church membership, we must then deal with the details- which is something I do not want to take the time to go through at this time.

Let me say right out, there is no perfect church. There can’t be. Every local body of believers is FILLED only with fallen people- in need of a Savior, in need of fellowship and breaking of bread and the constant reminder we are not Lone Ranger Christians. We are a BODY of believers – not a group of individuals. Like the eye can not take the place of the rest of the body, neither can we being a part of the body substitute the whole.

Like you, I once (and still do at times) resent the idea of church membership. However, I began to realize, this hard grace of God is necessary for our edification and sanctification.

With this said, please read this in the spirit in which it is intended- to share the necessity of this grace in which we live.

“Contrary to popular and false belief, it’s not ‘those who help themselves’ whom God helps; it’s those who humble themselves.” ~ C. J. Mahaney, Humility: True Greatness (Multnomah Publishers, Inc., 2005), 21.

“It is evident that man never attains to a true self-knowledge until he has previously contemplated the face of God, and come down after such contemplation to look into himself.” ~ John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, vol. 1 (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1990), 38 via C. J. Mahaney, Humility: True Greatness (Multnomah Publishers, Inc., 2005), 21.

“Humility is honestly assessing ourselves in light of God’s holiness and our sinfulness.” ~ C. J. Mahaney, Humility: True Greatness (Multnomah Publishers, Inc., 2005), 22.

“If you were to speak to any of my friends, they would confirm how I continually surprise them with fresh discoveries of my inadequacies. I even provide them a certain degree of entertainment, especially when it comes to the hands-on and the mechanical.

One day my daughter informed me that our car was making a strange noise, so I went out to investigate. She tired to prepare me, but in no way did I anticipate the violent shrieking that assaulted my ears upon starting the car. I immediately turned off the engine.

In such a moment, wisdom demands one course of action only: Get out of the car, walk back into the house, and call a trustworthy auto-repair service.

That would have been the appropriate and prudent response. Instead, I followed the arrogant male instinct, which requires at bare minimum that the male lift the hood and stare intently at the engine. After all, neighbors might be watching, and we want to at least give the appearance that we have some mechanical knowledge.” C. J. Mahaney, Humility: True Greatness (Multnomah Publishers, Inc., 2005), 25-26.

So often “church” is giving the appearance that we have some spiritual knowledge and awakening, yet we often do not want to humbly place ourselves under the Leadership and Lordship of Christ over our lives in and through the church as members.

“At every stage of our Christian development and in every sphere of our Christian discipleship, pride is the greatest enemy and humility our greatest friend.” ~ John Stott, “Pride, Humility & God,” Sovereign Grace Online, September/October 2000, http://www.sovereigngraceministries.org/sgo/v18no5/prt_pride.html (accessed August 3, 2005) via C. J. Mahaney, Humility: True Greatness (Multnomah Publishers, Inc., 2005), 29.

If we have not placed ourselves in covenantal membership in a local assembly, can we say we are truly living humbly before God?

“As I sat with my family at a local breakfast establishment, I noticed a finely dressed man at an adjacent table. His Armani suit and stiffly pressed shirt coordinated perfectly with a power tie. His wing-tip shoes sparkled from a recent shine, every hair was in place, including his perfectly groomed moustache.

The man sat alone eating a bagel as he prrepared for a meeting. As he reviewed the papers before him, he appeared nervous, glancing frequently at his Rolex watch. It was obvious he had an important meeting ahead.

The man stood up and I watched as he straightened his tie and prepared to leave.

Immediately I noticed a blob of cream cheese attached to his finely groomed moustache. He was about to go into the world, dressed in his finest, with cream cheese on his face.

I thought of the business meeting he was about to attend. Who would tell him? Should I? What if no one did?” ~ Attributed to Pastor James R. Needham in a 2004 illustration from www.preachingtoday.com via C. J. Mahaney, Humility: True Greatness (Multnomah Publishers, Inc., 2005), 123-124.

My Own Cream Cheese Moment
“Let me tell you about a cream cheese moment in my life, one of many such experiences that have helped convince me that no sin is more deceptive than pride.

I’m in an accountability group with men who care for and watch over my soul. In a meeting with these brothers, I was telling them of a specific pattern of sin I had noticed in my life in the past week. I’d become aware of this sin and been convicted about it, and I’d confessed it to God and received His forgiveness. Now I wanted to inform these men about it as well–then move on, because there was another particular issue I was more concerned about and wanted to discuss with them.

But as I described in detail my sin from the previous week, my friends started to ask caring and insightful questions about the root issue behind the sin. I assured them the root issue was obvious: It was pride. I even transitioned into a brief teaching on pride, then let the guys know I wanted to move o n to something else I thought was more important and more serious. I’m sure there was mild irritation in my voice.

But the men had more questions. They had observations. And they began to challenge me to look deeper at the pattern of sin I had shown in the previous week.

Again I felt irritation. I assumed I understood that particular sin completely. Why were we spending so much time on something I’d already figured out?

In essence, there was cream cheese all over my face, and I didn’t know it. My underlying sin had decieved me. I was blind. I didn’t see it and couldn’t see it. But they saw it clearly.

In my pride, I thought no one understood my heart as well as I did. But Scripture doesn’t support such a conclusion. Actually, God’s Word tells me, ‘No, C. J., sin is subtle, sin is deceitful, and sin blinds you. And you need feedback from others in order to understand your heart.’

By God’s grace, because the men seated around me in that room are true friends who care for me and aren’t afraid of me, they persevered. Though I was arrogant–not only in assuming I fully understood my sin and its root issue, but also in my relunctance to explore it more deeply–those men persevered in kindness. And only by their kindness and perseverence, and only by God’s grace, did I finally begin to perceive how much my sin had indeed deceived me. I saw that my confidence about fully knowing my soul in this situation, and in assuming I needed no one else’s eyes upon it, was actuallyy the hieight of arrogance.

They were guarding my heart and helping me to see the true extent of my sin. I thought I’d already wiped the cream cheese from my face and it was gone, but they were faithfully telling me, ‘It’s not gone; we’re staring at it! And were telling you this because we love you.'” ~ C. J. Mahaney, Humility: True Greatness (Multnomah Publishers, Inc., 2005), 125-127.

Again, are we truly humiliating ourselves to such a degree that we truly demonstrate the humility of Christ to others?

Why Church Membership? Living the Gospel in Practice

John Piper once said,

“Could it be that we are so bent on having immediate, measurable results that we have defined the gospel and evangelism in a way that enables people to understand and respond even without spiritual comprehension and heart change? I fear this is largely why we are so weak as a church. The very foundations have been laid wrongly.”

This directly relates to the issue of Church Membership. Many (American) evangelical Christians, and I will also take the liberty of saying most, do not realize the significance of Church Membership. Most think it as an option of a smorgasbord of choices. But American (insert other free country name here) Christianity is atypical Christianity – by far.

Amercian Christians have never seen true persecution. A “minor” law being passed here and there, maybe, that might have direct impact upon Christians, but generally, nothing comes of it. However, I do not want to minimize the importance of fighting against such laws, by and large, American Christians know nothing about what it is to be truly persecuted. American Christians do not lose their lives for the sake of the Gospel, little alone being mocked and scorned because of their faith. Granted, there may be exceptions, but that’s the point. They are exceptions.

The American government does not darken the door of any church building for the express purpose of jailing all those in attendance simply because they were participating in a non-government sanctioned worship service. Whereas, even in the past month, Christians in China have been persecuted in such a way. American Christians do not lose their lives for the Gospel, but in China, many Christians have died because they rebelled against their human government in this matter.

American Christians take Church Membership for granted, but Christians in other parts of the not-so-free world put their lives in danger when they are baptized in public. I would even say that baptism itself in the not-so-free parts of the world is Church Membership. Their obedience to God can immediately lead to the loss of their own life!

And American Christianity takes Church Membership for granted. It has become a commodity, of sorts, with which we barter and even choose not to use if we don’t feel comfortable within any of the local churches available to us. We don’t want to become a member of any church because the church is “not perfect” or “filled with hypocrites!” This is why many churches have more attenders to services than they have actual members; and even then, many of the members are attending other local churches. We rationalize within our hearts, “if none of the churches in my area meet all of my proposed needs, I will not directly identify with any of them. I will, however, participate to gain the benefits, but I will not participate in such a way that I gain responsiblity.”

Amercian churches have been relegated to a group of selfish, uncommitted, and loyal-less individuals who take everything they can get without the thought of giving in return. Discipleship is for someone else; not me, and accountability is skirted. But the benefits are a-plenty!

This lax attitude toward Church Membership has led to the lack of true Christian authenticity. D.A. Carson says,

“What is at stake is authenticity. . . . Sooner or later Christians tire of public meetings that are profoundly inauthentic, regardless of how well (or poorly) arranged, directed, performed. We long to meet, corporately, with the living and majestic God and to offer him the praise that is his due.”

This thought is intense. It reminds me of the Psalmist’s words, “Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.’ As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight” (). At first glance, David seems to be promoting two very different statements – “I have no good apart from you” and “the saints… are … in whom is all my delight.” The reality of the true believing Christian is the believer’s partaking of God’s very nature (). When we, as a true believing community, join together in corporate worship, our longing to meet with the living and majestic God and to offer him the praise that is his due is fulfilled! True authentic worship is displayed and God’s glory is proclaimed.

“21. … Where is that true communion the body ought to have with the head, and the uninterrupted influence the head ought to have again upon the body Where are the vital emanations which must needs attend so close an union and the real effects derived again from this union, upon the life, manners, desires, thoughts, actions, and the whole internal and external conduct of a Christian? Again: if the body be considered in relation to the members; where is then that sweet fellowship to be found in our modern church-societies which one member ought to bear to the other, and which makes every one employ its particular gifts for the profit and benefit of the whole, in a manner most abounding and universal, free from hatred, envy, bitterness, strife and animosities, as things utterly inconsistent with the nature of the church, body, and spouse of Christ? Where is that spiritual: sympathy and fellow-feeling, wherewith those that are not dead, but living members of this spiritual body, must needs be affected among themselves? Where is that divine coherence and symmetry not so much in particular opinions, forms, schemes, and modes of an external way of worship, as in spirit, in power, and in reciprocal acts of an endearing love, and of a most cordial friendship?” ( Jacob Boehm – HT: Howard Davis)

Church Membership is not like becoming members of a social club. It is a formal identification of our union with Christ and His body. How shameful it is that Americans take such an identification lightly. In any other context (outside North America), the practice of baptism is the process of Church Membership because the mere public identification with God’s people can be a death sentence.

An objection to church membership may be expressed as, “the first century church did not have church membership, why should we?”

Formal Church Membership, as we know it, was not needed. Mere identification with the church was membership enough. The church(es) of Rome bears witness to this. The Roman Empire was ruled by one man, namely Caesar, whose official titles included ‘son of god’ and whose birthday was proclaimed as ‘good news’. The fact that the church was proclaiming allegience to a King in place of Caesar was to sign a death warrant. When Paul wrote his letter to the Roman church(es), he was sentencing all members of the church in Rome to death; that is, if the letter fell into the wrong hands, namely loyalists to Caesar.

Another objection to Church Membership may be, “but we want people to come to church! If you coerce/force them to become members, they won’t come!”

Although there are false assumptions on which this objection is based, I will only deal with the most forceful of points. bears heavily upon this objection. “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.” For the sake of the undershepherds of a local church, become a member or attend another local church. Undershepherds will give an account for those souls of whom they keep watch!! If I were an Elder/Pastor of a church, I would want to know for whom I will be giving an account!

If you come to my local church to check it out, then come! If you want to join my local church, please do so! But if you want the benefits and none of the responsiblities, then let me direct you to other good, local churches in our area. This is a serious matter! When we take Church Membership lightly, we take the Gospel itself lightly! Even Christ loved the church and gave himself for it.

Oh that we in America would submit to something as small as Church Membership and give ourselves wholly to Christ’s body!!!

16:1 Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you.”

As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,
in whom is all my delight.

The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply;
their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
or take their names on my lips.

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.

I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
I have set the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.
10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption.

11 You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (ESV)

1:1 Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:

May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

12 Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. 13 I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, 14 since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.

16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (ESV)

17 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. (ESV)