Friday, October 10, 2014

Historic Baptist Teaching on Church Membership - Regeneration, Evidencing Salvation, Baptism

Acts 2:42 "So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls."

Introduction & review:
In yesterday's post the conditions of church membership as spelled out by Edward T. Hiscox's classic treatment: "The New Directory for Baptist Churches" were once again explored. As mentioned before, this writer finds the Biblical teaching of regenerate church membership a very significant teaching in understanding the nature of the local church. We've looked so far at the following conditions spelled out by Hiscox:

1. A regenerate heart. 
2. Evidencing of salvation. 

Below Hiscox continues his lively discussion on regenerate church membership by noting the third requirement for being  a member of a local church (at least among Baptist churches), namely reception of believer's baptism. 

Excerpts from Edward T. Hiscox's "New Directory for Baptist Churches" on the subject of regenerate church membership

A Reception of Baptism. 
"Especially is a confession of faith to be made in baptism. A regenerate heart constitutes the spiritual qualification for Church membership. A professed faith and a consistent Christian life constitute the moral qualifications. And baptism constitutes the ritual or ceremonial qualification for that sacred fellowship. Except by baptism no person can be re- ceived as a member of the Church, without violating the prescribed conditions...."

One may become a member of the kingdom of heaven by being "born from above," but he cannot become a member of the visible Church except he confess that spiritual change in the waters of baptism. 

In that symbolic act he declares himself dead to the world and sin, buried, and raised up to newness of life through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The spiritual change of the new birth begets Christian fellowship; but to secure Church fellowship, that change must be confessed in baptism. This is the New Testament order. At the first it was so; they repented, they believed, they were baptized, then added to the Church. Without confession in baptism there could be no Christian churches."

Tomorrow we will consider one final condition for church membership. 

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