What You Need To Know Before Joining Our Church (Part 7)


21. Christian liberty A. The following things fall under the heading of Christian Liberty. i. Things such as these are permissible, with caveats, when done in moderation if one's conscience allows it (Rom 14:1-6). ii. Christians should not be judging each other for the use or abstention from use of things such as these (Rom 14:3). iii. A man whose conscience is not clear regarding such things should abstain from them until his conscience is okay with them (Rom 14:14,20,23). iv. Christians in the church should not intentionally offend their brethren by partaking of such things in their presence if they believe them to be questionable or wrong (Rom 14:15-16,19-22). B. Food i. All food, with the exception of blood, animals that were strangled, or animals that were sacrificed to idols (Act 15:20), are acceptable for a Christian to eat (Rom 14:14; 1Ti 4:4-5). ii. If a Christian thinks it best to abstain from meat or any other type of food, he is at liberty to do so (Rom 14:2-3). iii. There is no Christian diet. C. Alcohol i. The Bible allows for moderate drinking of alcohol as long as one doesn't become drunk (1Ti 5:23; Eph 5:18). ii. See sermons on Alcohol: Alcohol (Part 1) and Alcohol (Part 2). D. Dancing i. There is a time to dance (Ecc 3:4). ii. Those that want to engage in wholesome dancing are free to do so. iii. There are some types of dancing that are obscene and sinful and must be abstained from. iv. Most dancing that takes place in clubs, bars, concerts, etc. (and sometimes weddings) amounts to revelling. a. Revelling - Riotous or disorderly merry-making or festivity; a revel; also, great delight or joy. b. This type of dancing and partying must be abstained from by Christians (Gal 5:21). E. Having children, and using non-life-killing methods of birth control i. The New Testament doesn't command us to replenish and multiply in the earth like God commanded Adam and Eve and Noah and his family to do (Gen 1:28; Gen 9:1). a. We are not commanded in the NT to have children, nor are we told how many to have. b. Therefore, it is a matter of liberty as to how many children Christians decide to have. ii. That being said, it is a blessing to have children (Psa 127:3-5). a. Those who don't want to have children should examine their motives for not doing so. b. If the motives are selfishness, greed, laziness, or other sinful things, then such Christians should consider their ways. iii. Christians have liberty to use non-life-killing methods of birth control. a. These include "charting," "early withdrawal," condoms, female condoms, diaphragms, tubal ligations (female tube tying), and vasectomies (male tube tying). b. None of these methods kill a fertilized egg; they only prevent fertilization. c. Birth control pills which contain progestin (and nearly all, if not all, of them do) have the potential to kill a fertilized egg by not allowing it to attach to the uterine wall. d. Using them could cause the death of a human being (Isa 7:14 c/w Mat 1:23) and is therefore forbidden. iv. See video on Birth Control. F. Card playing, watching movies, listening to music, entertainment, etc. i. None of these things are inherently sinful and are therefore areas of liberty. ii. All things are lawful, but all things are not expedient nor edifying (1Co 10:23). iii. Certain types of card playing, movies, music, and entertainment are harmless (or at least relatively so). iv. Gambling, and especially high-stakes gambling, is not wise. v. Many (probably most) movies, music, TV shows, and entertainment contain moral filth and should be abstained from (1Co 15:33). vi. These things will have to be considered on a case by case basis by Christians. II. Prerequisites for baptism 1. If you have been properly baptized before, you do not need to be re-baptized. A. In order to have been properly baptized, your baptism needs to have met the five scriptural requirements given above, which are: i. Proper administrator (validly ordained pastor of a true NT church) ii. Proper candidate (penitent believer) iii. Proper belief (Jesus Christ is the Son of God) iv. Proper mode (immersion) v. Proper result (addition to a true NT church) vi. See the section above on Baptism to see if your baptism met these requirements. B. If your baptism was valid and we don't know you, then you will be asked to give a profession of faith (see below), and the church will take a vote to receive you into membership. 2. If your baptism was not scripturally valid, you will need to be baptized. A. In order to be baptized you must: B. Repent of all past sins, moral and doctrinal (Act 2:37-39). i. Repent v. - 1. refl. To affect (oneself) with contrition or regret for something done, etc. 3. intr. To feel contrition, compunction, sorrow or regret for something one has done or left undone; to change one's mind with regard to past action or conduct through dissatisfaction with it or its results. ii. If you currently or previously have held beliefs contrary to the scriptural beliefs listed above, you must repent of those false beliefs (Mar 1:15; 2Ti 2:25). iii. You must also repent of all of your sins (1Pe 1:15-16; Rom 6:19). iv. You must bring forth fruit (evidence) of your repentance (Mat 3:7-8). For instance: a. If you have not been working (and you can be, and should be), you need to get a job (1Ti 5:8; 2Th 3:10). b. If you have been doing drugs, you need to stop and remain sober for a sufficient length of time. c. If you are an alcoholic, you need to break your addiction and remain free of it for a sufficient length of time. d. If you are fornicating, you must stop. e. If you are living with a girlfriend or boyfriend, you either need to move out or get married. f. If you view pornography, you must quit. g. For children living at home, if you are rebellious, you must humble yourself and submit to your parents and prove to them you have changed. h. If you listen to wicked music, you must stop and get rid of it. i. If you celebrate the pagan holidays of Christmas, Easter, and Halloween, you must quit. C. Make a public profession of faith including: i. Belief in a. The Trinity b. The deity of Jesus Christ c. Jesus Christ is the Son of God d. The death, burial, and bodily resurrection of Christ e. The return of Christ f. KJV is the word of God ii. Confession of sins (Mat 3:6) iii. Belief that Jesus died for your sins and gave you eternal life (sovereign grace) iv. State that you have repented of all of your past sins, both moral and doctrinal. v. State that you are putting your hand to the plow and not looking back (Luk 9:62). D. You will need to write out your profession of faith and email it to the pastor ahead of time. i. He will review it and make sure it is acceptable. ii. You will then read it publicly to the church prior to your baptism. iii. The church will be asked if anyone has a reason that you should not be baptized (Act 10:47). iv. If none can forbid water, you will be immersed fully in water in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. a. If possible, you will be baptized in a river or a natural body of water. b. If not, you will be baptized anywhere there is enough water to fully immerse you in. v. When you come out of the water you will be a member of the church. 3. Attire for baptism A. Don't wear a white shirt. B. Wear modest clothing. III. Requirements of church membership 1. Attendance requirements A. Resident members i. Resident members are those members who live approximately two hours or less from church. a. If a member lives two hours or less and is in sufficient health and financial condition, he should be assembling with the church on a weekly basis, weather permitting. b. This is not a law set in stone; a member's personal situation will be taken into account by the pastor when determining how often he should be in church. ii. There is no specified number of allowable absences from church. iii. Everyone needs to take a vacation from time to time. iv. Try to keep your number of absences to a minimum, not for the pastor's sake, but for God's sake Who deserves your worship and demands that you present your body a living sacrifice (Rom 12:1). v. If you are going to be absent, inform the pastor ahead of time. B. Nonresident members i. Members who reside more than a four hour drive away from church are considered nonresident members. ii. Members who reside between a 2-3.5 hour drive away from church are quasi-resident members. iii. The Bible allows for nonresident membership (Col 4:9). iv. Attendance requirements of nonresident members varies based on their distance from the church. v. The minimum requirements are roughly as follows: a. >12 hour drive (or flight required): 1 Sunday per year b. 4-12 hour drive: 3 Sundays per year c. 2.5-3.5 hour drive: 1 Sunday per month d. 2-2.5 hour drive: 2 Sundays per month e. <2 hour drive: every Sunday vi. The three Sundays per year requirement for those within a day's drive is based on the principle given in the Old Testament (Exo 34:23). vii. Nonresident members are required to attend at least one communion and feetwashing Sunday per year. viii. Nonresident members should try to make their visits on communion and feetwashing Sundays when possible. ix. These requirements are not set in stone and can be modified based on personal circumstances such as health and financial condition. x. Nonresident members are certainly welcome and encouraged to attend church more often than the minimum requirements. C. Nonresident members when not in church i. Nonresident members must listen to the previous week's sermon at home on Sunday mornings. ii. They should set aside a specific time on Sunday morning to listen to the sermon, pray, and sing hymns. iii. They should treat Sunday mornings just as seriously as they would if they were close enough to attend church each Sunday. iv. If they are faithful with little, God will bless them with more (Mat 25:21; Luk 16:10-11). v. Nonresident members should meet regularly on Sunday mornings with other nonresident members in their area if there are any. vi. See video on Nonresident Church Membership