- Parent Category: FAQs
- Category: Bible Questions and answers about the Church
- Published on Thursday, 19 November 2009 11:35
The New Testament provides an example and doctrine that answer this question.
In Acts 9:26 & 27, Saul came to the assembly at Jerusalem. Three facts confirmed by Barnabas enabled the assembly to receive Saul: his salvation ("how he had seen the Lord"); his beliefs or doctrine ("He had spoken to him"); his life ("he had preached boldly"). Some may object that this was necessary because Saul was a persecutor. Universally in the New Testament, wrong doctrine and behavior, and unbelievers "creeping in" posed more danger to assemblies than persecution. Overseers in an assembly have a responsibility to preserve believers in that assembly from behavior or teaching that will endanger their progress in Christian living.
New Testament doctrine implies that, since an assembly is a fellowship, anyone whose behavior or teaching denies the scriptural truths held by the assembly could not be part of the assembly or participate in its privileges.
Since an assembly is a testimony, to include anyone whose life and testimony are contrary to the testimony of the assembly weakens or destroys what the Lord expects the assembly to uphold. An assembly, for instance, testifies that Jesus is Lord (1 Corinthians 12:3). Baptism is an initial public testimony of submission to the Lord’s command. Without being baptized, a believer could not participate in a collective testimony to the Lordship of Christ.
Carrying a letter of commendation when visiting another assembly is a scriptural practice. The letter does not certify "membership" and therefore guarantee "admission." It enables the receiving assembly to determine whether the visitor can be safely received. The letter is only valuable to the degree that the receiving assembly knows and has confidence in those who have sent the letter.