Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
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NOT A PERFECT CHURCH
A certain man had been searching for some time for a church home. Finally he wrote to a prominent clergyman in a distant city asking him if he knew where he could find a suitable church, explaining that one particular church in his neighborhood had some hypocrites in it; another had certain other faults. He was puzzled to know where he could turn for a church that had no faults.
The minister replied that he was very sorry, but he did not know of any church that had no faults.
"And, my friend," the minister continued, "if you do locate such a one will you please write and tell me. I should like to know of such a church.What is more, let me give you a piece of advice. If you do find a church without faults, do not join it, for then it will no longer be faultless."
The church of our particular choice deserves our allegiance not because it is faultless, but because it is, or should be, a part of the Body of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is made up of individual Christians, some strong, some weak, some conscientious, and some careless, but if its membership is made up of those who have accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour, then it is the object of His love and concern and care.A SOUND CHURCH
But anyone who sets out to give his wholehearted allegiance to any cause or organization does well to examine carefully that to which he is making his pledge lest his allegiance be of necessity divided or weakened by acts or policies to which he cannot give his wholehearted approval. A church whose leaders deny the inerrancy of the Scriptures or who question the deity of the Lord Jesus cannot command the unswerving loyalty of those who hold to the fundamentals of the faith once for all delivered to the saints. Therefore we need to be sure that the particular church with which we align ourselves is the one to which we can give our unquestioned allegiance. PROVING ALLEGIANCE
But, just how are we to prove our allegiance to the church of our choice? The first method is obvious, and yet one which is often neglected. There are some who seem to think that their allegiance can be expressed by remote control. Young people especially are tempted to be careless in church attendance. It is not enough to attend young people's meetings or Sunday School. If we really intend to show our allegiance to the church, we will be present at the church services regularly, and we will stay away only when some unavoidable circumstance makes this necessary. We may have no particular part in the service, yet our very presence is an encouragement to others who are there, a witness to those who see us go and come, and a help to the pastor. EXPRESSING ALLEGIANCE
Our allegiance to our church will be expressed in prayer for the church, for its pastor, and for its activities. It will find expression not only in private prayer, but also in the public prayer service of the church. Our allegiance to the church of our choice will be proved by our financial support. We may not be blessed with an abundance of this world's goods, but if we will form the excellent habit of laying aside at least a tenth of our income, however small that may be, we shall always have something to give to the support of the church. Our allegiance to our church will be shown in our willingness to help bear its burdens. There are few churches indeed that have no place where eager and consecrated Christian young people can find a place of real service. Our difficulty often is that we want to pick and choose the particular service that seems to us to be most desirable. True loyalty will prompt us to do whatever God sends to us, trusting Him for grace and humility to do the unseen and less desirable things, as well as for strength and ability to do the greater tasks. Shall we not make this week's prayer meeting in our young people's group a time of real consecration that will mean much to the work and ministry of our particular church?
Brings a week of content,
And health for the toils of the morrow,
But a Sabbath profaned,
Whatso'er may be gained.
Is a certain forerunner of sorrow.
In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ we say "Welcome" to the fellowship of the church. The day you received Christ as Savior was a great day in your life. Then, the day you obediently followed Him through the waters of baptism was another great day. Now another great day in your spiritual experience has arrived as you have formally united with the local church. We want you to sense that you are now a part of the Church Family, and that this is your Church Home. Your loyalty to the church of the Lord Jesus Christ is naturally expected. However, we want you to know that we now stand together in a spiritual fellowship, and that it is the desire of each member of our church to be of whatever help he can in this new and glorious relationship. May this church be a source of blessing to you, hallowed by His presence as you worship with us, and a source of constant strength and spiritual growth under the ministry of the Word of God. So that we may understand each other better and be of the utmost service to Christ, we urge you to study the following pages of this booklet at your leisure. THE CHURCH IS A FELLOWSHIP
The New Testament word for church designates an assembly of "called out ones." In a larger sense this refers to believers everywhere and in every age, or the church universal. More often the reference is to the local, visible church. Not only did the Lord Jesus institute the Church, (Matt. 16:18), and the Apostles establish it, but the Bible gives us the reason for its existence. The Epistle to the Hebrews was written to Christians who had been widely scattered by persecution. They were in danger of losing the values of a local church, and to them and us - is given the command .... " consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together" (Heb.10:24-25). Thus the purpose of assembling believers together, such as we do in the local church, is seen to be for the good of the believer. When believers gather together an experience of fellowship results. To have fellowship there must be a common purpose and practice. When we accept Christ we become "at one" with God. But our fellowship is not only with the Father and the Son (1 John. 1:3), but also with other believers (1 John. 1:7). The purpose of this gathering together in fellowship is always to strengthen us for Christian service. Fellowship should never be an end in itself. To be sure it is a self-gratifying experience, but it is valueless unless it produces spiritual growth in us which in turn will incite us to greater activity for Christ. You have now been given the right hand of fellowship into the church. This is a Biblical practice. However, it was more than just your formal and public acceptance into the body. In reality it identified you with other believers in the common task of witnessing and winning men to Christ. You have now united with this one great aim of the church. Notice how this was true when the right hand of fellowship was given to Paul and Barnabas (Gal. 2:9). It is therefore our prayer that you will regularly assemble with the church, and that together we will, by this fellowship, provoke in each other "love and good works." YOUR PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY
Now that you are a Christian and have joined the Church, do not consider this the end of your responsibility, but rather the beginning. A whole new way of life is open before you. Do not miss the many wonderful blessings and opportunities it holds by failing to meet the conditions God has laid down for those who desire His best. You Have a Responsibility to Yourself
You owe it to yourself to grow and "be strong in the Lord." God has provided the means for your growth. Prayer is as necessary as the air you breathe. Speak often with God, in your own words. At least begin and end each day with private prayer. Lift your heart to Him during the day. Be sure to thank Him for each meal, and other blessings. Take your problems to Him. Confess your sins of commission and omission. Pray for others - your friends, your pastor, your missionaries, your church. The Bible is the food of the Christian. "Desire the sincere milk of the Word, that ye may grow thereby." - 1 Peter 2:2. Read the Bible every day. Start with something simple, and do not expect to understand everything all at once. The Holy Spirit will teach you as you persist. A regular time for devotions, Bible reading and prayer, is a good thing for a Christian family. It will help all to grow. Regular attendance at church where the Word of God is taught and where Christians fellowship together will be of untold value to you.
You Have a Responsibility to Others
You Have a Responsibility to God
When one accepts the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, he also accepts His Word. The Bible is God's Word. Therefore the church with which one fellowships should be in accord with The Word of God. There are certain principles held by a truly Fellowship church which make it a distinctively New Testament Church. While these beliefs may be held in part by other churches, they were originally distinctives that mark a real Fellowship Church. The Authority of the Bible
We believe the Bible is divinely inspired, completely trustworthy in its entirety, and that it is the only full, final, complete and infallible revelation of God from God to man. It is a complete and only rule of faith and practice. For this reason we recognize no authority above the Bible, 2 Tim. 2:15, 2 Tim. 3:16, 2 Peter 1:21, Jude 3. The Priesthood of All Believers
We believe that every believer in the finished, atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ has the right of direct access to God, and that no priest, church, or decree can come between the believing soul and his Lord. 1 Tim. 2:5, 1 Pet. 2:5, Matt. 13:11. The Ordinances
We believe the Bible teaches the observance of only two ordinances, Baptism and the Lord's Supper. -These are not sacraments since the word "sacrament" implies some saving grace. The only Biblical mode of baptism is immersion. The original Greek word "baptizo" means only "to dip, to plunge, to immerse." Baptism is an outward symbol of an inner experience and thus symbolizes the believers death to sin, burial of the old life, and resurrection to newness of life in Christ. Baptism does not save and should only follow belief in Jesus Christ as Savior. Therefore, we do not believe in infant baptism. Matt. 28:19-20, Matt. 3:15. But we do observe a Dedication service for infants and children, where we dedicate, bind, and seal them into the protective care of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the child's parents, God parents, and the members of the local and universal congregation. The Lord's Supper, or Communion, is an ordinance symbolizing the giving of the body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ for our sins. It is a medium for communing with Christ, not each other, and is to be taken by believers who are living in obedience to Christ. I Cor. 11:24, 28. Christ stated; "as oft as you do this" meaning as often as you gather together for a meal, "do this in remembrance of me." The Church
We believe that the local church membership should be composed of only saved believers. While baptism is not essential to salvation, it is essential to obedience to Christ. The church is a fellowship of the saved, not a body of those who might someday be saved. The Scriptural order is always (1) salvation (2) baptism (3) membership of the universal church, thereby also the local congregation, as well as any other Christian Church that you may visit anywhere on earth. This Membership is sometimes known as "Regenerate Church Membership." Acts 2:41, 42, 44, 47. We believe the local church should be governed on democratic principles. Ranks and classifications of Christians are inconceivable to us. Through personal faith in Christ ALL are heirs of God, ALL have the Holy Spirit by whom direct access to God is provided, and ALL are laborers together with God. Rom. 8:14-17; 1 Cor. 12; 1 Cor. 3:9. We believe the local church is a self-governing AUTONOMOUS unit. Christ alone is the head of the church. Each local church is the seat of final authority, and thus the necessity for any "higher" body to exercise authority or legislate is eliminated. While this principle of autonomy is insisted on, We do realize the value of fellowship with believers of like faith, and they are not smugly contented isolationists. Association or affiliation with others must always remain on a voluntary basis, but on such a basis we may form local, area, provincial/state or national associations as long as such associations have no judicial authority over the local congregation. Rev. 1:4, 2:1, 3:1; Acts 11:22, 13:3, 14:27, 15:22-23. Separation of Church and State
We believe the church should be absolutely separate from the state and are opposed to any form of religious coercion. Function of church and state is in different realms and one has no right of authority over the other. Christians have pioneered the idea of "universal inalienable human rights, liberty of conscience, and the rights of free religious conviction." Christians have been persecuted and even killed for this basic Biblical concept. Much of the freedom in the world today is due to the insistence of Christians on this very point. Matt. 22:21b.