Q103. What is the duty of those who are rightly baptized?
A103. It is the duty of those who are rightly baptized to join themselves to some visible and orderly church of Jesus Christ, that they may walk in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.
Acts 2:46-47. “46 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.”
Acts 9:26. “When he came to Jerusalem, he was trying to associate with the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple.”
1 Peter 2:5. “…you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
Hebrews 10:25. “…not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”
Romans 16:5. “…also greet the church that is in their house. Greet Epaenetus, my beloved, who is the first convert to Christ from Asia.”
In his book on the Church, Jeffrey D. Johnson writes: “The New Testament assumes that Christians are members of a local church. Like baptism, church membership does not save sinners, but also like baptism, church membership is not viewed as a choice.”
In the Book of Acts, this organic and natural pattern is demonstrated. Luke writes in Acts 2:41-42: “So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added [to the church] about three thousand souls. They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
Those who received the Word received baptism and those who received baptism were added to the membership of the church.
The duty of becoming a member of a local church that conducts itself “properly and in an orderly manner” isn’t burdensome. The commandments of God are never described in this way. In Psalm 119:47, David writes, “I shall delight in Your commandments, which I love.” In 1 John 5:3, the Apostle John writes, “For this is the love of God (it could be translated “this is how love for God is demonstrated”), that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.”
Becoming and being a member of a healthy local church, though difficult at times, is a delight primarily because of Who makes the command. God who is “compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; 7 who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin…” calls the believer to join a local gathering of His people. A gathering of brothers and sisters, who likewise, have been adopted into the family of God.
Becoming a member of a healthy local church is also is an act of love toward God and an act of love the people of God.
It is an act of love toward God because believers demonstrate that they are entrusting themselves to God and His design for the Church on a global scale and a local scale.
It is an act of love toward the people of God because the believer covenants with and pledges to be a vital means of sanctification for the other members of that local church. By doing this, the believer walks “in a manner worthy of the calling with which they have been called…” By doing this, the believer builds up the body of Christ and is built up themselves. By doing this, the believer helps the body of Christ to grow up to spiritual maturity and is helped to grow up to spiritual maturity themselves.
Every believer is called as Abraham was called: to “…walk before God, and be blameless.” Every believer was “predestined to become conformed to the image of Christ…” Every believer has been “chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before God.”
None of this is truly possible without the other members of the body of Christ. To “forsake the assembling together” of the saints is to cut oneself off from a means of grace. It is to stunt holiness or sanctification in the life of the individual believer and the local body.
God has called us to Himself and united us to the body of Christ, both globally and locally. Even during this strange time when Lord’s day gatherings are put on hold we still have opportunities to encourage one another through various means (Phone calls, texting, Marco Polo, FaceTime, Zoom, etc). Even though we can’t meet as often as we would like we can still give heaven an audience so that they can see iron sharpening iron.
May the Lord help us to pick up the pace in stirring one another up to love Christ and walk before Him blamelessly.