Membership versus Relationship

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

  • Matthew 7:21-23

I have been reminded of many old posts and many things said over the years.

I have heard that no one can say “Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior.” And not be saved.

First, these are not magical words.  If they have no meaning, they are just words.  Most people that join the church, have no idea what “Lord” means.  They simply want the saving.

When you mean what you say and you know the meaning of the words, then you can count on God to not let you go.

I have heard people say that they do not wish to grow as Christians because strong Christians are attacked more by Satan.  But if you do not grow, there is no fruit to show that you truly have accepted Jesus and Satan is already victorious in that your witness is negligible.

Let us take under consideration one of those churches that requires you to say, “Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior.”  They might feel so proud of their church that some get the delusional idea that membership in a particular church is a guarantee of salvation.  Over the years, denominations have felt that way along with the converse that membership in a different denomination is tantamount to going to Hell.  It is odd that those denominations usually had a side belief that if you visited another church, you would go to Hell.  What were they afraid of?  If they truly had the inside track to salvation in their denomination exclusively, visiting a different church should illuminate the superiority of your denomination.  But if they like the other church instead, and you fear that, then you know you are not even the best option at getting into Heaven.

I have seen some very wonderful Christians that are very strong in their beliefs, and they know their Bible like their brains are supercomputers, with instant recall.  And yet, they roam from one church to another, never belonging to any church nor denomination.  I think this is dangerous in that to be a family member with other believers, there should be some sort of accountability.

But the membership does not save you.  Only a relationship with Jesus, a meaningful relationship where you count upon Jesus with your life, can save you.

I am a member of a church, but in some ways, it ties me down.  If I did not love the people in the Sunday school class where I teach, I might shop around.  But at the same time, I might never find other Christians that I consider family.  But that helps me grow as a Christian.  It does not save me.

So, when it comes to two ships docking at the nearest port, I will get onto the relationship instead of the membership.  But the membership can help that relationship grow.

Without the relationship, the membership is absolutely worthless.  It can even be counterproductive.  As the Scripture above states, it gives you ample opportunities of saying “Lord, Lord” and even thinking that you mean it.  You can fool yourself, to a point.

I have talked to lifetime church members, or nearly that long, and they worry whether they have attended enough church meetings and done enough good in the community.  They reject the need for a relationship because they know, deep down, that they do not have a relationship.  In Denise Wilson’s book, The Seven Words You Never Want to Hear, she thinks that some evangelists do a disservice when they ask someone to say the salvation prayer when they have no idea who Jesus really is.  And if you wonder what the seven words are, the Scripture above ends with nine words in quotation marks.  Take away “you evildoers,” and you have the seven words.

But once someone has accepted Jesus as their Savior, they need to join a good church.  They need to grow as a Christian; they can greatly benefit in being part of a church.  There is accountability within a small group of Christian friends.  We all need Christian growth.  Christian growth is inevitable.  God works with us in spite of ourselves at times, but that support group and accountability group can help that growth.  But to be honest, if the church is emotionally, financially, and spiritually secure, they will not pressure you to join.  You can “join” most small groups without being a “member.”  And you still get to be a “member” of the small group.

When I thought of this post, I did not expect this conclusion.  But just like being a member of a church, asking God to work within you to write something can sometimes produce a little growth as a Christian.  It is not only in church membership, or just attendance, but we can grow by fervent prayer and Bible study.  But the key is that a relationship with Jesus is necessary for salvation, and membership in a church provides many means of church growth.  Make it a God fearing church.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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