The Church Of Christ: You Can't Join It, You Can't Quit It

James E. Farley

 The church of the Bible is a vastly misunderstood topic: misunderstood by those in the sectarian world for sure, but also often terribly misunderstood by those who are members. Jesus came to this world to die for the sins of the world. He came to shed his precious blood on Calvary as an anti-type of the animal sacrifices under the Old Law. His precious blood provides a washing from sin, redemption from sin, forgiveness of sins. (Revelation 1:5; Ephesians 1:7). His shed blood is what has purchased the church, bought us from the snare of sin, as one paying a ransom to free those in bondage. (Acts 20:28; Ephesians 5:25; Matthew 20:28; 1 Timothy 2:5-6; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). As members of the church of Christ, we are His; He is our Lord, and we His servants to do right. (Luke 6:46; Romans 6:16-18). Of course, one cannot successfully separate salvation from the church of Christ, for He is the Savior of the body, the church. (Ephesians 1:22, 23; 5:23). 

 Some members of the church seem to see the church as some organization the Lord established, and we can join it as one would join the Lion’s Club or the Masonic Lodge. I have heard members of the church say, “Well, I joined the church back in 1955.” They did not! Why? Because you simply cannot join the church of Christ; it is not that kind of organization. If one is to be a member of the Lord’s church, he must willingly, humbly, and meekly submit to His Way as right, and this must be expressed by unquestionable obedience to Him as Lord of lords and King of kings. (Compare Romans 10:1-3; James 1:21-25). He is the author of eternal salvation to all who will, indeed, obey Him, and this salvation is in the body of Christ – in Christ. (Hebrews 5:8-9; Ephesians 5:23; 2 Timothy 2:10). This salvation is certainly “in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” Therefore, one must be “in Christ” in order to take advantage of it. The Word is clear about how we get “into Christ:” we are baptized into Christ. (Romans 6:3-5; Galatians 3:26, 27). When a person humbly submits to the Lord’s Will in this manner, the Lord adds that person to His church. (Acts 2:37-47). You cannot join Christ’s church.

 There are also those among us who somehow think they can quit the church, and, in fact, you often hear members say, “He used to be a member of the church, but he quit.” That, my friends, is an utter impossibility. One cannot quit the church. One may quit being active. We may quit assembling, giving, working, praying, etc. However, it is the Lord who adds people to the church, and only He can remove one from the church.

 Matthew 13 is a chapter full of parables. At verses 47-50, we read the parable of the great net. The Lord says that “the kingdom of heaven is like a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind … .” This is the church; the kingdom is the church of Christ. (Matthew 16:16-20). Truly, the church has in it “of every kind.” The parable goes on to say that when the net was full it was brought to shore and men gathered the good and put them into vessels, but they cast the bad away. Then the Lord said, “So shall it be at the end of the world; the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, And shall cast them into the furnace of fire; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” 

 Now, in this context, from what shall the angels “sever the wicked from among the just”? Certainly you can see that it is from among the church, the “kingdom of heaven.” The “net” here is “the kingdom of heaven,” the church. When will this separation take place? The Lord said “… at the end of the world.” A person who has initially obeyed the gospel, and who may have lived faithfully for a time and then become unfaithful, is certainly in a lost and undone condition, but he is still a member of the church – he is still in the net. This is precisely why we have passages like Galatians 6:1-2, James 5:19-20, and 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15. When we withdraw from an unfaithful brother, we are to admonish him “as a brother.” Why? Because he IS a brother; he is still in the “net.” -1179 Mark Wayne Drive, Louisa, KY 41230.

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