Let's talk about how we will practice church membership at Gospel City Church. As always, the Word of God guides our steps...
Dl Moody was visiting a prominent Chicago citizen when the idea of Church membership came up. I believe I could just be a good Christian outside the Church as I can be inside it, the man said. Moody said nothing. Instead, he moved to the fireplace, blazing against the winter outside, removed one burning coal and placed it on the hearth. The two men sat together and watched the Ember die out.
I see, the other man said. Two weeks ago we started this series called We Are the Church, and we kick things off by taking a look at what Jesus Church actually is. Last week we narrowed our focus a bit by looking at what membership in the local Church is. And this week, as we wrap up our series, we are narrowing our focus even further as we take a look at some of the ins and outs of how we will practice Church membership right here in our Church, right here in Gospel City.
There are four different ways that Church can practice Church membership.
One, some churches don't practice Church membership at all. The churches have a weekend service. They have various groups or ministries throughout the week, and people come and go as they please, with no one belonging to the Church in a formal way to some churches have an extremely low buffer entrance into Church membership. Some churches acknowledge the need to have some form of Church membership, but they don't want to draw any hard lines around the process. In this scenario, a local Church would take the potential members desire to become a member as all that's needed.
When this gets extreme, some churches even admit unbelievers into the membership of the Church just because the unbeliever wants to join. Do you have a pulse? Do you want to be a member here? If that's so you're in number three. Some churches have an extremely high buffer entrance into Church membership.
These churches make it almost impossible to become a member by making the qualifications for membership so hard to attain that in reality, probably only Jesus himself could actually be a member of that Church. Have you read all of Mother Teresa's Journal entries? Have you visited Jerusalem? Have you made yourself go bankrupt trying to feed the poor? Have you gone at least a year without thinking a bad thought?
Number four, some churches implement membership by examining what the Scriptures say about what it means to follow Christ and belong to His body. The Church. We would call this Biblical Church membership, and this is the sweet spot where we want to be and where we believe we are as Gospel City, biblical Church membership does not make entrance into the local Church any easier than what's laid out for us in the Bible. And Biblical Church membership does not make entrance into the local Church any harder than what's laid out for us in the Bible.
When done correctly, Church membership explains to a prospective member what biblical Christianity is and it gives them a framework for how to walk out their faith in Jesus.
Together with the other members of the local Church they become a part of and then those who want to live like that come into the Church in a formal way. So here's the pathway to membership and Gospel City Church. If a person wants to become a member of Gospel City, there are only three things that need to be present in their life before they can. And as I lay out these three things, I want you to see that anyone can do these. But I also want you to keep this sane in mind.
Here it is. Anyone could become a member at Gospel City Church, but not everyone will. So here's number one and this is going to be the first filling on your outline. To be a member of Gospel City Church, you must be a Christian to be a member of Gospel City Church. You must be a Christian.
I hope this one is obvious. You have to be a Christian before you could become a member of a Christian Church. What's a Christian? We covered this in part one of our series, but to recap for you quickly because I can't help myself from sharing the gospel and absolutely every message. It's the best news anyone will ever hear.
One a Christians. A person who confess their sin to God, understanding that their sin had kept them separated from a relationship with God in this life, and if it was left undealt with it, would he separated them from God forever in the next to a Christian is a person who is repented of their old way of living. They turned from a life where they didn't honor God as the center of their life, and they turned their life around to position it toward Jesus. Three. A Christian is a person who believes exclusively in Jesus's perfect life, his substitutionary death on the cross for the sins of the world, his bodily resurrection from the dead.
And belief in Jesus like this is the only way a person can be saved. And for a Christian is a person who voluntarily chooses to submit all of their life to live all of their life under the care and direction and authority of Jesus Christ. We understand that he has called us to live according to His Word, and we want to do that in each and every area of our life. A Christian happily declares that Jesus is their King. Now anybody can become a Christian, but sadly, not everybody will.
But you have to be a Christian. If you're going to be a member of Gospel City Church number two and your next filling on your outline to be a member of Gospel City Church, you must be baptized as a Christian to be a member of Gospel City Church, you must be baptized as a Christian. When a Christian gets baptized, they are publicly proclaiming to the world what Jesus has done for them and that they are now United to Christ by faith. When a Christian gets baptized, they are indicating their intent and desire to live as a disciple of Jesus.
When a Christian gets baptized, they are obeying a specific command of Jesus.
The command to get baptized is the first command a new Christian has the opportunity to obey. So, if a Christian doesn't get baptized even though Jesus tells them to, how could a local Church bring that person into their membership? If a person won't obey the very first command that Jesus gives them to follow? How can we move on to talking about obedience to any of the other commands that we've received from our King? The simple answer is we can't now anybody can get baptized after they become a Christian, but for some reason or another, not every Christian does.
You have to be baptized as a Christian to be a member of Gospel City Church. Number three. Next, filling on your outline to be a member of Gospel City Church, you must understand what's in the Gospel City Church members Covenant and voluntarily enter into it. You must understand what sinned the Gospel City Church members Covenant and voluntarily enter into it. There's a document that Jeff and I are working on called the Gospel City Church Membership Covenant and Statement of Faith.
Here's the introduction to set document the Gospel City Church Membership Covenant birthed out of our love for the Church body and its individual members whom we hope will experience the fullness of joy which is found in the presence of the Lord. The primary purpose of this Covenant is to serve as a teaching document with three functions. Number one to clarify the biblical commitments and expectations for both the elders of Gospel City Church and the individual members of the Gospel City Church body to to establish teaching and doctrinal parameters for the Gospel City Church body and three.
The survey is a tool for reflection and growth toward Holiness. Each of these functions is in accordance with the documents overall vision to provide an accessible explanation of the scriptures in hopes that Gospel City Church would grow in the Grace and truth of Jesus Christ.
The Gospel City Church Membership Covenant is comprised of a section on the Church, the Nature of Covenants, the statement of faith, the obligations of the Gospel City Church elders to the Gospel City Church body and the commitments of members to the Gospel City Church Body. If you were to take a look at the whole document, you will quickly realize that it's quite extensive. This is not us trying to be legalistic or Pharisaic. One of the reasons we have a relatively detailed members Covenant is so that we can be as transparent as possible about what it means to be a member of Gospel City Church.
We need to err on the side of giving more clarity around the topic not less, a lack of clarity would open up the door for miscommunication, which is the very last thing that we want to do.
Now. I'm not going to go through the whole document with you now. Instead, I'm going to skip to the end where it lays out the Covenant that elders of Gospel City Church are going to make with the Gospel City Church body. And then after that, we'll go through the Covenant that an individual member will make with the Gospel City Church body. We'll walk through this portion of the document so that you can see what's involved in a formal relationship with Gospel City Church.
And I hope that you see that all that we're doing with this Covenant is describing what the Bible calls all of us to as Christians. That's our hope so. First, let's take a look at the biblical obligations of elders to the Gospel City Church body. As shepherds and overseers of the local Church, elders are entrusted with protecting, leading, equipping, and caring for the corporate Church body and her individual members. The followings rather extensive overview of the requirements for elders as spelled out within the Scriptures.
Number One, the Elders Covenant to appoint elders and Deacons, including staff who serve in these offices according to the criteria assigned to them in the Scriptures. We have God's requirements for what needs to be in a person's life who will occupy either the biblical office of elder or Deacon in the local Church. These requirements are found in First Timothy, chapter three, Titus One, and first Peter, chapter five. And these standards alone are what governed the appointment of new leaders in Jesus' Church. We do not call people the leadership positions in Jesus as Church the way people raise up leaders in the business world, namely by charisma or gifting or any other such thing.
We recognize a leader by their calling, their character, and their competence. All three of these things are measured by the Word of God. It's the elders duty to lead in the recognition and appointment of these leaders. And this is what the elders of Gospel City Church Covenant to do. Number two, the Elders Covenant to prayerfully, seek God's will for our Church community and Stewart her resources to the best of our ability.
Based on our study of the Scriptures and following of the Spirit, Elders Shepherd and oversee the life of God's Church that he is entrusted to our care. Paul said this to the Ephesian Elders now Acts chapter 20, verse 28. Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as overseers to shepherd the Church of God, which he purchased with his own blood. And Peter said this to the elders of the early Church in verses Peter five, verses one to four, I exhort the elders among you as a fellow elder and witness to the sufferings of Christ, as well as one who shares in the glory about to be revealed.
Shepherd God's flock among you, not overseeing out of compulsion, but willingly as God would have you. Not out of greed for money but eagerly, not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading Crown of glory. The Elders of Gospel City Covenant to oversee and shepherd the members of the Church. Number three, the elders covenant to care for the Church and seek growth in grace, truth, and love.
Elders are to care for the Church. Just look at some of the carrying words in the last two passages we just read. We see the words guard verses. Shepherd, not Lording. It over.
Elders are to take care of God's people. We are to help them grow. We are to give leadership to the whole Church in such a way that we can all fulfill the Great Commission among that's where Jesus says Go, therefore make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I've commanded you. Number four, the elders Covenant to provide teaching and counsel from the whole of Scripture. Listen, the Apostle Paul writes to his protege Timothy in Second Timothy, chapter four, one to five.
I saw only charge you before God and Christ Jesus, who's going to judge the living and the dead. And because of His appearing and his Kingdom preached the word. Be ready in season and out of season. Correct, rebuke and encourage with great patience and teaching for the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear what they want to hear. They will turn away from hearing the truth and will turn aside to myths.
But as for you, exercise self control and everything in your hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your Ministry and right into his other protege, Titus. Paul says this and Titus two one. But you were to proclaim things consistent with sound teaching. Elders give themselves to teach the Church the whole counsel of God. This means that we teach everything the Bible says.
Even the tough stuff. That's what we do here in Gospel City Church. We teach the Bible. We teach in our Sunday service together is taught in our home groups. Midweek is taught in our discipleship courses, and it shapes the recovery Ministry that we're rolling out.
Elders feed people the Word of God and the elders Covenant to do that in Gospel City Church, number Five, Elders Covenant to equip the members of the Church for the work of Ministry. Elders work hard at doing Ministry, but we aren't supposed to be the only ones doing Ministry. One of the main focuses of our labor is to equip the entire Church so that each member can join in putting their hands to the plow of Ministry, work together. Listen to how Paul says this in his letter to the Ephesians in chapter four, verses eleven to 16, and he himself, speaking of Christ, gave some to be Apostles, some Prophet, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers to equip the Saints for the work of Ministry, to build up the body of Christ until we all retain reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God's Son growing into maturity with a stature measured by Christ's fullness.
Then we will no longer be little children tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning, with cleverness and the techniques of deceit.
But speaking the truth in love let us grow in every way into Him. Who is the head Christ? From from Him. The whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building itself up in love by the proper working of each individual part. When elders are doing their job well, the whole Church is mobilized to do the work that Jesus has called us to.
Number six, the elders Covenant to be on guard against false teachers and teachings. I'm not sure if you knew this, but there is false teaching everywhere in the world today, and you can find it both outside and inside the local Church, and it's the elders job to guard against it. Paul, addressing the Ephesian elders in Acts chapter 20, says, this be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as overseers to shepherd the Church of God, which he purchased with his own blood.
I know that after my departure, Savage Wolves will come in. Amen.
You not sparing the flock. Amen will rise up even from your own number and distort the truth to lure the disciples into following them. Therefore, beyond the alert, remembering that night and day for three years, I never stopped warning each one of you with tears and writing specifically to his protege Timothy, who was in the Church at Ephesus. Paul writes, this is I urged you when I went to Macedonia remain an emphasis so that you may instruct certain people not to teach false doctrine or pay attention to myths and endless genealogies.
These promote empty speculations rather than God's plan, which operates by faith.
Now the goal of our instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith. Some have departed from these and turned aside to fruitless discussion. They want to be teachers of the law, although they don't understand what they are saying or what they are insisting on. Now, every Christian should be trained up in the word of God, and when they are, the whole Church will be effective at recognizing and rejecting false doctrine. But while the whole Church should play a role in guarding against false teaching, if the elders duty to do it.
And that's what the elders of Gospel City Church Covenant to do. Number seven, the Elders Covenant to lovingly, exercise discipline when necessary for the glory of God, the good of the one disciplined and the health of the Church as a whole. The elders of the Church oversee any Church discipline that needs to take place. But when you read Jesus words in Matthew chapter 18 regarding Church discipline, the elders aren't brought into the process until the third step. Matthew chapter 18, verses 15 to 17 Jesus says, if your brother sins against you, now here is step one.
Go tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you've won your brother. But if he won't listen. Now here's step two, take one or two others with you so that by the testimony of two or three witnesses, every fact may be established if he doesn't pay attention to them. Now here step three.
Tell the Church which includes the elders. If he doesn't pay attention even to the Church, let him be like a Gentile and a tax collector to you. When it comes to the Church, it's the elders who will oversee any removal of a member from the Church due to that members unrepentant sin if it ever comes to that. And of course we pray that it never will. But this should put you at ease knowing that there are Biblically qualified Amen to handle the messiest parts of Church family life.
You don't have to do the unwanted jobs because we will. Number eight, the Elders Covenant to set an example and join members in fulfilling the commitments of Church membership that we will all enter together. Flipping 317 Paul says, Join in imitating me brothers and sisters and pay careful attention to those who live according to the example you have in us. And first Timothy 412. Don't let anyone despise your youth, but set an example for the believers in speech in conduct and love and faith and impurity.
Titus two seven to eight, Paul says, make yourself an example of good works with integrity and dignity and your teaching your message to be sound beyond reproach so that any opponent will be ashamed because he doesn't have anything bad to say about us. And the Apostle Peter says, this first Peter five not Lording, it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock, the elders Amen T a special tear of Christians. Elders are first and foremost fellow brothers in Christ in the family of God.
We do have a certain role to fill in the family. We are leading the family, but we are not the fathers in our faith.
Family. We all have one Father God and we are brothers with you. And because we are fellow siblings in Jesus, we not only enter into a Covenant with the Church as elders, we also enter into the same members Covenant that you will enter into if the Lord is calling you to become a member of the Gospel City Church. We enter the same Covenant as our fellow members. But as we walk out our calling as elders, we can be looked to as models of what it means to be a mature, a mature Christian.
So these eight items are what the elders of Gospel City Church Covenant to do in regards to how we shepherd the members of the Gospel City Church body. Now, I don't know about you, but I want to be a part of a Church that has elders that promise to give themselves to the things that we just heard, don't you? So now let's switch gears and let's take a look at what's involved in the biblical commitments that members will make to the Gospel City Church body. As those who've experienced the Grace of a life changed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we have the opportunity to reflect the character of Christ through the pursuit of certain attitudes and actions and the rejection of others.
The Scriptures refer to this reality as living by the Spirit.
The requirements of this membership Covenant are in no way intended as an addition to the biblical obligations of a believer. And this member's Covenant is not a legally binding one if anyone was concerned that it was rather, this document functions primarily as an accessible yet non-exhaustive explanation of what the Scriptures teach about the obedience that faith produces. Here are the things that you'll be committing to if the Lord is calling you to become a member of Gospel City Church number one. As a member of Gospel City Church, I covenant to submit to the authority of the Scriptures as the final arbiter on all issues.
Culture isn't King family isn't King.
Government isn't King. The eldership of a local Church isn't King. There's only one King we acknowledge, and His name is Jesus, and we submit our lives to His Word alone. Elders give themselves to preaching the Word. But if they ever stray from that, you covenant to submit to God, not to anything that we say or do that contradicts that.
Number two. As a member of Gospel City Church, I covenant to pursue the Lord Jesus Christ through regular Bible reading, prayer, fellowship, and practice of spiritual disciplines. We are not to float through our life as followers of Jesus, just ending up wherever we end up like some cosmic lottery, we are to give ourselves to growing and Godliness. We plan on becoming more like Jesus, not just hoping we win the spiritual lottery and wind up a little more like Him. By the time our life is done, Paul says this to the Church in Corinth.
Don't you know that the runners in a Stadium all race, but only one receives the prize run in such a way to win the prize? Now everyone who competes exercises self-control and everything. They do it to receive a perishable Crown. But we have an imperishable crown, so I do not run like one who aimlessly, who runs aimlessly or box like one beating the air. Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified.
Number Three as a member of Gospel City Church, I covenant to follow the command and example of Jesus by participating in the ordinances prescribed to His Church, a by being baptized after my conversion and B by regularly remembering and celebrating the person and work of Christ through Communion. We touched on baptism already and a Gospel City we make observing commune in a priority in our weekend services by giving Christians opportunity to participate with us in the Lord stable each week. This is a vital part to our discipleship as believers.
Jesus tells us to do this and remember Him when we do. Number four as a member of Gospel City Church Covenant to regularly participate in the life of Gospel City Church by at ending weekly services, engaging in gospel centered community and serving those within and outside of the Church.
Some of my absolute favorite verses in the Bible describe what this kind of life in the Church looks like. Acts Chapter Two Verses 42 to 47. They devoted themselves to the Apostles, teaching to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to the prayer. Everyone was filled with awe and many wonders and signs were being performed through the Apostles. Now all the believers were together and held all things in common.
They sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all as any had need. Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with joyful and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people every day the Lord added to their number those who are being saved. I personally want to experience life in the Church the way Luke described it happening in the Book of Acts. Hebrews 1023 to 25 says this let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, since he who promised is faithful and let us consider one another in order to provoke love and good works, not neglecting to gather together as some are in the habit of doing but encouraging each other and all the more.
As you see the day approaching. Participating in the life of Gospel City Church includes both planned and unplanned time with our brothers and sisters. We can plan to attend a Sunday night service and home group on Wednesdays and we can meet up with one another to hang out, pray, do Bible study, go to the movies or park or whatever. These are a few ways you can hang out with your Church family in an unplanned way, however, which way you go about it. As a member, you want to give yourself the gospel centered community with your fellow brothers and sisters in the Church and you commit to do so.
Number Five as a member of Gospel City Church Covenant, the steward, the resources God has given me, including time, talents, spiritual gifts and finances. This includes regular financial giving, service and participation community that is sacrificial, cheerful and voluntary. Now this one honestly needs his own message. But let me hit it briefly for us now. The local Church is a family and every member in the family has been given time, talents, spiritual gifts and finances all in various amounts, as we would expect everyone to chip in at home to help to contribute to the overall well being of the family.
We are expected to do the same as a part of God's family. Can you imagine this scenario? A large family of ten people all live in the same house together. Everyone is old enough to work and contribute money for rent. Everyone is capable of doing chores, so the core of the home are split up evenly among all ten family members.
Everyone has a responsibility and a part to play. Now, how do you think the other nine family members would feel if Ted does all of a sudden stopped working, stopped contributing financially, stopped doing his chores, waking up at 01:00 p.m. Every day to play video games throughout the night and then showed up at the dinner table to eat the food that everyone else provided and prepared. How long before that act gets old? I know that everyone is in different seasons of life and those seasons are always changing.
But when we become a Covenant member of a local Church, we are offering to give ourselves to fulfill the calling that Jesus has placed on His Church. That calling requires that all of us give financially, serve in the Ministry in some way and participate in the life of the community of God's people in our local Church, the giving of these things ought to be sacrificial, cheerful, and voluntary. We will need reminders of these things throughout the year. But as members, we should never need to have our arm twisted into contributing in any of these ways.
We understand on the front end that these things are part of the expectation of members, and they are something that you should want to do if you're a member of a Church, Peter says - this is 1 Peter 4:10 - Just as each one has received a gift, use it to serve others as good stewards of the varied Grace of God.
If anyone speaks, let it be as one who speaks God's words. If anyone serves, let it be from the strength God provides so that God may be glorified through Jesus Christ in everything. To Him be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen. Number Six as a member of Gospel City Church, I covenant by God's Grace through the power of the Holy Spirit to pursue Holiness in all areas of life.
As an act of worship, to Jesus Christ. God wants all of your life, and he has designed your life to work in a certain way. As members of Jesus' Church, we give ourselves to pursuing His way to live out each and every aspect of our life, including, but not limited to our sexuality, our money, our entertainment choices, our relationships, just to name a few. First Peter chapter One, verses 13. Therefore, with your mind ready for action, be sober-minded and set your hope completely on the Grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
As obedient children do not be conformed to the desires of your former ignorance. But as the one who called you is Holy, you all sort of be Holy in all your conduct, for it is written, be Holy because I am Holy. First. Peter chapter Four verses One says, Therefore, just since Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same understanding, because the one who suffers in the flesh is finished with sin in order to live the remaining time in the flesh no longer for human desires but for God's will.
For there's already been enough time spent in doing what the Gentiles choose to do, carrying on an unrestrained behavior, evil desires, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and lawless.
Idolatry. Okay, number seven, as members of the SPL City Church Covenant to take seriously the responsibility of Christian freedom, especially actions or situations that could present a stumbling block to another. Paul addresses this issue with the Corinthian Church in his first letter to them, where he writes about food sacrifice the idols. In chapter eight of that letter, Paul says that meat sacrifice to idols is no big deal because idols aren't a big deal. It's just meat.
So if your conscience allows you to eat this meat that was involved in idol worship, then eat it. But don't eat it. If you have over for dinner, a brother or sister in Christ who just came out of idol worship and into a saving relationship with Jesus, they might get triggered by the fact that this meat was used in idol worship, and it might lead these weaker brothers or sisters to conclude that you are participating in idol worship in some way you aren't, but they aren't mature enough yet to understand the freedom that you have to eat this meat.
So to spare them the confusion and the potential that they might eat. Thinking they are worshiping an idol right along with you.
They just don't eat the meat. There's nothing wrong with the meat. As a Christian back then, you were free to eat the meat. But in order to love your brothers and sisters, well, there are times when you choose not to exercise your freedom in Christ for their sake. Now, idle meet is not a hot button topic in the Church today.
So, here's a modern-day equivalent. The Bible does not condemn drinking alcohol. It does condemn getting drunk, but getting drunk is different than having a couple of beers after work with some friends, Christians have the freedom to drink. But what if you invite a brother or sister over for dinner who has been an alcoholic for years? But now they're living a sober life as they follow Christ.
Hear me clearly. They should not have a social drink, but you're not an alcoholic and you enjoy a drink with dinner. So, what should you do for the sake of your brother or sister who shouldn't be drinking? You would choose to forego your drink with dinner for their sake unless you put a stumbling block in front of them that causes them to fall into sin. We have freedom in Christ but love trumps freedom every time.
Number Eight as a member of Gospel City Church, I covenant to submit to the correction of God through His Holy Spirit by following the Biblical procedures for exhortation and correction, where sin is evident in another with the hope that it produces repentance and restoration and B receiving the same righteous and loving exhortation and correction when approached biblically by fellow believers. Remember, if you say that you want to be a member of the Church, you are wanting and asking the Church to practice what Jesus preaches in Matthew chapter 18.
We want to be active participants in other's discipleship, and this includes lovingly graciously, gently pointing out unfruitful and unbiblical things we may see in their lives. And it means that we want our brothers and sisters to do the same for us. Number Nine as a member of Gospel City Church, I covenant to do the following: When I sin, I confess my sin to God that I can walk into cleansing and forgiveness available in Christ. And if I ever find myself ensnared by a particular sin repeatedly, I will seek help from a fellow brother or sister in Christ to put my sin to death.
Romans 8:13 says, Because if you live according to the flesh, you are going to die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. Caution three, five. Therefore, put the death what belongs to your earthly nature, sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil, desire, and greed, which is idolatry. Amen 5:16 says, therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed.
The prayer of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect. And first, John chapter One, verses six to ten says this, if we say we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in darkness, we are lying and are not practicing the truth. If we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus, his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar and His word is not in us. Some clarity is needed here. Every member is going to sin in some way. Nobody obeys Jesus perfectly, and confession is part of our response. When we do sin, we are to confess to God, and sometimes we need to confess to another believer sometimes, but not every single time.
Can you imagine if we confess our sin to each other every single time that we send? Can you imagine if we had a group text set up for confessing sin for the whole Church, like everyone in the Church, is in this group text, and if we shared in that group text, if everyone did, every time any of us committed a sin in our mind or in our heart or a body, our phones, would he dinging off the hook nonstop? Get in the habit of confessing all your sent God, even the small ones as they happen.
You should do that. But when it comes to confessing sin to our brothers or sisters in Christ, I think it's safe to say that we only need to be confessing those things that we are constantly struggling with, that we want help putting to death those things where we need another person to know so that they can help us battle it.
So, we need the Holy Spirit to help us discern which sin we confess, both the God and others, and which ones we can just confess to God alone. Number ten. As a member of Gospel City Church, I covenant to submit to the elders and other appointed leaders of the Church and diligently strive for unity and peace within the Church. Ephesians Four, one to three. Therefore, I Paul speaking the prisoner of in the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you've received with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
Hebrews 13:17 - Obey your leaders and submit to them, since they keep watch over your souls as those will give an account so that they can do this with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you. 1 Peter 5:5. - In the same way you who are younger, be subject to the elders. All of you called yourselves with humility toward one another because God resists the proud.
But he gives Grace to the humble. Strive to keep unity in the Church. This unity must be around Jesus and what he says to us in His word. This cannot be unity for unity's sake. We can't be unified around something worldly or sinful and obey your elders and submit to them as long as they do not call you to sin.
You remember last week I asked the question, what do the elders of the Church, or who do the elder? Sorry, who do the elders of the Church obey and submit to? Here's the beautiful answer. Elders need to be pastor just like everyone else does. But how does an elder get pastor in the local Church?
If there's only one elder who pastor the pastor? This is the beauty of God's plan and design for his local Church. She is to be shepherded by a plurality of elders. Multiple biblically qualified elders bring a complementary gifting to the job of pastor ing with each with their own strengths and weaknesses. There's built in accountability with a plurality of elders.
And there's a way to meet the practical needs of each elder who at the end of the day is a Christian who needs to be pastor to the elders of a local Church are pastor by each other. We submit to each other. We lead each other. We fellowship with each other. One of the most powerful things that influenced the merge of New Hope and God Rock into Gospel City Church is the relationship that I share with Jeff.
We had been unofficially pastors to each other for years before Gospel City merged. Officially, we've been meeting together at least once a week. For a year. We've been sharpening each other's doctrine and theology. We've been enjoying friendship and fellowship together.
We've been sharing our weaknesses and receiving personal Ministry from each other, and we've been getting to know and love each other's families. There are other reasons that contributed to Gospel City Church coming into existence, but in my opinion, nothing was more influential than the pastor relationship. I have had the privilege of sharing with my brother. Number eleven. As a member of Gospel City Church, I covenant to do the following.
Should I leave the Church for righteous reasons, to notify one of the elders and be to seek another Church with which I can carry out my biblical responsibilities as a believer. Times change, seasons change. Life changes. This means that there may come a day when you are called to leave the local Church that you're a member of. But for good, healthy reasons, you might move out of the area of where your Church is.
So, you need to find a new Church that you can get plugged into. You might be called to serve in another local Church. Lord willing as God bless his Gospel City Church and adds to our number, those who are being saved and those who are growing in their maturity as followers of Christ. He may lead us to plant a new Church out of this one. If that happens, any member who would leave Gospel City to be a part of that new work would become a member of that new Church.
You need to be a member of a faithful local Church. It could be at Gospel City Church. It can be somewhere else, but it needs to be somewhere. If you become a member of Gospel City but in circumstances make it so that you can't be any longer due to a number of potential reasons. Look to become a member of another local Church as soon as possible, so that's it that's both the Elders covenants that they will make with the body of Gospel City Church and that's the Members Covenant that they will make with the body of Gospel City Church.
Do you see how when it's all boiled down, it's just the Bible. That's why we can lay this out for you with such confidence. What will walking this membership pathway look like if, after hearing these three things needed to become a member of Gospel City Church, Christian Baptized and Members Covenant and you still want to become a member, here's how you'll be able to walk that process out. First, you'll be able to access an online membership class. This will be up and running in the next week or two or three.
If I'm being realistic and when it is, you will notify either Jeff or myself, and we will give you a link to the online membership pathway. You'll be prompted to watch this sermon series as a resource, and if you've already heard this series live or already had watched it online, you can just click through the sermon portion online. You will have access to the Gospel City Church Membership Covenant and statement of faith, and you'll be prompted to read through it. There you'll be prompted to answer some questions about membership Online with an option to ask any questions that you might have about the process along the way.
This will help you grasp what it is you're committing to as a member.
All of this will be in the online membership class, and you'll be able to work through this at your own pace. Next, after you've completed the online portion and in person, meeting with one or more of the Gospel City Elders will be set up, we'll use this time together to go through your online responses. Answer any questions you might have about membership in Gospel City, and then we'll discern with you if membership in the Church is the right next step for you at this time, if there's nothing that would keep you from becoming a member, then the last step is to formally enter into the Members Covenant with the other members of the Church.
Again, this Members Covenant is not a legally binding agreement. We may not even have you sign anything, but there will be witnesses and you may just be required to say yes to everything that's in the Members Covenant.
Isn't that how Jesus calls us to do things? In a sermon on the Mount? Jesus said this again. You've heard that it was said to our ancestors. You must not break your oath, but you must keep your oath to the Lord.
But I tell you, don't take an oath at all, either by Heaven because it's God's thrown or by the Earth, because it's his foot stool or by Jerusalem because it's the city of the Great King. Do not swear by your head because you cannot make a single hair white or black. But let your yes mean yes. And your no mean no. Anything more than this is from the evil one.
Now one more time anyone can become a member of Gospel City Church, but not everyone will. Anyone could become a Christian, but not everyone will. Every Christian should be baptized, but not every Christian will. Any Christian can enter into the biblical members Covenant with the whole body of believers at Gospel City Church, but not every Christian will. Here's a really important question you might be asking to yourself what happens to me if I don't become a member?
If you've been coming to Gospel City Church and you don't want to become a member of the Church, you might be worried about what that means for you. Let me put all your worries to rest. If that is you. If there's any reason that you don't want to become a member of the Church, hear me. Nothing changes for you.
You can keep coming to our Sunday night Church service exactly the way that you've been. You can come worship God and song with us. You can sit under the teaching of the Word. You can give financially to God. Here.
You can serve as a part of one of our serve teams. You can be a part of Wednesday night home group without having to be a member. You can enjoy friendships in the Church without being a member. You can participate in a recovery Ministry when it's launched without being a member, everything that you've been enjoying at Gospel City Church will remain exactly the same for you if you decide that you don't want to become a formal member of Gospel City Church. Well, if that's the case, what are the benefits of becoming a member, then?
Well, on top of all that good stuff that anyone can experience without being a member as a member, you will also get to enjoy the peace of mind that comes from having your Salvation affirmed by a local Church purposeful partnership in your discipleship, you will be shepherded by the elders of the Gospel City like we'll have to give an account for your life because we will have to give an account to God for you. You will have access to leadership development and opportunity to fulfill or fill leadership positions in the Church.
You have a voice. You have a say when it comes to voting on things like big financial decisions or the appointment of new elders. Big things like that.
You have the peace of mind knowing that you belong to Jesus Church in a formal way, you will experience the joy that comes with belonging to Jesus Church in a formal way, you will grow in maturity as a Christian because of the discipleship you receive with belonging to Jesus Church in a formal way. If you are a Christian and all these things are available to you as a member of a local Church, I don't know why you wouldn't want to be one. Is there a hypothetical scenario where a person would want to be a member and they are a Christian who has been baptized and who has read and agreed to the members Covenant, but who wouldn't be allowed to at the moment they're expressing desire.
There's only one scenario I can think of where we wouldn't be able to bring someone into the membership of the Church even though they wanted to. It would be because a person who wanted to become a member is living in sin that would warrant Church discipline.
Paul says this in first Corinthians chapter five. I wrote to you in a letter not to associate with sexually immoral people. I did not mean the immoral people of this world are the greedy and swindlers or idolaters. Otherwise you'd have to leave the world. But actually I wrote you not to associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister and is sexually immoral or greedy or an idolater or verbally abusive.
A drunkard or a swindler do not even eat with such a person. For what business is it of mine to judge outsiders? Don't you judge those who are inside God? Judges outsiders. Remove the evil person from Amen you?
It wouldn't make sense to bring someone into the membership of the Church only to have to immediately begin the process of Church discipline with them in day one. Some of the sins Paul mentioned in for Corinthians five are obvious to recognize, while others are easier to hide. The hard to hide distance from this passage or sexual immorality, idolatry and drunkenness. The sins that are more possible to hide are agreed. Verbal abuse and swindling.
Paul says that any of these sins would warrant the removal of the person from the Church. But you could hide your greed throughout the process of becoming a Church member. You could hide your verbal abusive Ness and you could hide your swindling, which just means that you take advantage of people financially. You could hide these things for long enough to become a member, but they would eventually come up in the process of your discipleship, and if they did, they'd have to be addressed after the fact. But the ones that you can't hide if you are living in sexual immorality, which is any kind of sexual relationship that is taking place outside the biblical confines of marriage Union between one man and one woman.
If you were actively participating in the worship of any God other than the one Triune God of the Bible, or if you are actively in addiction to a substance, either drugs or alcohol, then we could not bring you into the membership in the Church until all those things are worked through. Please hear me when I say this. I'm not saying that we will throw you to the curb and cut relational ties with you. If you're living out any of these things in your life, it's the opposite.
If you let us, the Church will help you to walk and freedom from these things, but only if you want that help.
And if you do, and when you walk in repentance in the area of life that's hanging you up and you still want to become a member. After that, we will happily pick up the membership process where we left off and look to bring you into formal membership in the Church. But if you refuse to get help with any of these issues and you refuse to repent of them, then that is not on the Church that's on you. Let me close this series with an illustration. I'm borrowing this from a well known pastor named Francis Chan.
Imagine you are a world renowned chef, and you get an opportunity to prepare a meal for the most powerful leader in the world. You agonize over the menu and you finally come up with an exotic pastor dish that has never been conceived, created or tasted before. You secure the finest ingredients from the four corners of the Earth. This one meal takes days to plan and prepare. The day comes when you get to serve your meal to the world leader and you lift the cover and it's a sight to behold.
The colors of the dish dance before everyone's eyes. The melody of smells harmonized perfectly, and they immediately water the mouths of everyone present. You are pleased you did it. And now you can't wait for this person of power to taste your dish, but they don't. Instead, you hear them speak these words to you.
This pastor dish looks incredible, and I can tell that you put a lot of time and effort into developing this meal for me. But I have to ask, did you not get the instructions I sent with the specific desire for what I wanted this meal to be? You brought me pasta, but what I actually wanted for this meal was a steak and a potato. If we're not careful, we can do the same thing to God with how we do Church. We can try to please Him by coming up with all sorts of new ideas and different ways of doing Church.
But at the end of it all, he will say that looks like a lot of hard work and a lot of creativity went into it. I can tell. But then you get the instructions I gave you. God has given us the way he wants us to do Church. We can find his desires for his Church and his Word, the Bible.
When we practice Church membership at Gospel City Church, please know that the only thing we are trying to do is give Jesus the kind of Church that he actually wants. We pray with me, Jesus the Church. Your Church exists only because of you, through you and for you. I pray, Lord, that you would impress that reality upon the hearts of every single one of your people who belong to your Church. That individually and corporately together, the cry of our heart would be the same, that our heart would be as one.
But all we want to do as your people, Jesus is to live and act and form an order and serve and do whatever it is that we do according to your word, according to your desires. Lord, we are your bride. We are your body. We are your Church, Jesus.
Help us. Help us be the Church that you want us to be. That's the only desire that we have with any of this. And if we give ourselves to doing this, Lord, we know that you will be glorified and your people will experience the deepest levels of satisfaction and joy that we can have this side of heaven. Do what we pray, Jesus, in your name.
We pray. Amen. Amen.