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“What are the qualifications for church membership?”

“What are the qualifications for church membership?”

FEBRUARY 25, 2022

/ Programs / Key Life / “What are the qualifications for church membership?”

Steve Brown:
What are the qualifications for church membership? The answer to that and other questions, on Key Life.

Matthew Porter:
Key Life exists to communicate that the deepest message of Jesus and the Bible, is the radical grace of God to sinners and sufferers. Life’s hard for everyone, so grace is for all of us, but there is a lot of confusion about how grace applies to real life. So, here’s seminary professor and author, Steve Brown and Pete Alwinson to answer your questions.

Steve Brown:
Thank you Matthew. Hi Pete.

Pete Alwinson:
Hey man. Happy Friday. Here we go.

Steve Brown:
Yeah.

Pete Alwinson:
Into the weekend. Are you preaching anywhere this week-end?

Steve Brown:
No, I’m not preaching as much as I used to, this pandemic has cut back on all the things.

Pete Alwinson:
I know.

Steve Brown:
And it’s beginning to come back. What about you?

Pete Alwinson:
Not this week-end. I did last week-end, in little Methodist church

Steve Brown:
did you?

Pete Alwinson:
in Geneva, Florida. Yeah.

Steve Brown:
Did you tell them they were all wrong about their theology?

Pete Alwinson:
No, I didn’t.

Steve Brown:
One of the things that, it’s nice to say when you’re preaching at a Methodist church, I’m not here to say that in order to get to heaven, you have to be a Presbyterian and then pause and say, but why take a chance?

Pete Alwinson:
They’re great people and they love Jesus and they’re prayer warriors, wonderful people.

Steve Brown:
You know, I was ordained a Methodist. I love the Methodists. I really do. My mother, to the day she died, thought I was a Methodist missionary to Presbyterians.

Pete Alwinson:
Awesome. That’s a mother’s wish.

Steve Brown:
Oh yeah, no, she was sure that’s what I was doing because she thought when Jesus came back, he would be a Methodist. Oh well, that’s Pete Alwinson and he comes in on Fridays and we love to answer your questions. You can call 1-800-KEY-LIFE, 24 7, record your question. And sometimes we put your voice on the air. Or you can send your question to

Key Life Network
P.O. Box 5000
Maitland, Florida 32794

if you live in Canada, it’s

Key Life Canada
P.O. Box 28060
Waterloo, Ontario N2L 6J8

or you can e-mail your question to [email protected] And if you can help us financially, please do. If you can’t, please don’t. And, we’ll be thankful for both. Pete, lead us in prayer and we’ll get to these questions.

Pete Alwinson:
Alright. I love it. Our great God, thank you that we could come to you at the end of this week. Thank you that we can come to you anytime because Jesus has literally bulldozed the way into your presence, by living a perfect life, by taking our curse on the Cross. And we honor you Lord Jesus for all that you did, in your death, burial, resurrection and we give you honor and praise. We thank you that we can call ourselves people who have been born again, renewed, with a new name that will last forever as daughters and sons. And so, we come to you Lord, and we commit the week to you. We ask that you would make sense of the things that we don’t understand, that you would open our eyes to the things that we’ve missed. And that you would strengthen our hearts, where we have been fearful. We ask for our leaders this week-end, that they would use, your word and be gripped by your Spirit to communicate with us. We ask that you would empower them and that we would be the recipients of your grace through your word this week-end. Thank you for Key Life. Thank you for this time of Q&A. Bless Steve, bless all those who do so much here.. And thank you for our listeners and supporters and partners. We give you praise for them. In Jesus’ strong name, we pray. Amen.

Steve Brown:
Amen. What are qualifications for church membership?

Pete Alwinson:
To be pretty and handsome, is the first two. Right?

Steve Brown:
That’s right.

Pete Alwinson:
Okay.

Steve Brown:
You’ve gotta be especially good looking and smart.

Pete Alwinson:
With a beard.

Steve Brown:
And a beard can’t hurt.

Pete Alwinson:
Yeah, I know.

Steve Brown:
So actually, who was it that said I’m not going to join a club that would accept me.

Pete Alwinson:
Right.

Steve Brown:
Actually, that’s what the church is.

Pete Alwinson:
I know.

Steve Brown:
It’s the only organization in the world, where the only qualification, is not to be qualified.

Pete Alwinson:
Isn’t that amazing. And we really aren’t. And so, it’s not an organization that we join, really. The church is not an organization. It’s a family that we are drawn into.

Steve Brown:
That’s so good. And that’s true.

Pete Alwinson:
That’s amazing.

Steve Brown:
Do you know, but that doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be some things that ought to be involved in church membership. It’s legitimate to have membership classes. And so that people know what they’re getting into.

Pete Alwinson:
Yeah, I think so. In the early church started doing this too, the catechumen class, the catechist, I can’t say the word right.

Steve Brown:
Catechumen works. Leave it, leave it alone. Don’t go back to it.

Pete Alwinson:
And sometimes they had so many qualifications. One of them that stands out to me was that, they were literally exercised, some of them at the very beginning, before their baptism or at their baptism. You know, the demons that had been in them, or they had gone through a process. But for membership at a church, it’s really receiving Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, that’s the number one thing.

Steve Brown:
That’s it. You know, we have a tendency to see church history as the measurement of what should or should not happen. The truth is, for instance, in the illustration, you just brought up. They didn’t always do it, right.

Pete Alwinson:
They didn’t.

Steve Brown:
And, we are free because we’re family to say so. That, yeah, that’s what the church did. You know, there’s some people that say you can’t sing hymns in the church unless they were written at least 200 years ago. And then they say that’s in the Bible and you want to say, no, it’s not. And, so we have to be careful about the qualification. One of the major divisions in church history were after the prosecutions of Rome and whether or not those who denied their faith would be accepted back into the church. And Augustine to his great favor said it was on the side of the sinners who had fallen and said that they should be accepted back in the church, because the only qualification is not to be qualified.

Pete Alwinson:
You know, you’re right. And I was asked by somebody the other day about, does a church have a right to have qualifications for membership and not beyond accepting Jesus, but it really makes sense. A couple of thoughts, one is that we do need as American Christians to commit. We’re such takers. We’re such consumers, that to go through a membership class, is important because we do need to commit. Secondarily, we need to know what we’d be committing to. And that’s really what a membership class is, what is this church about? What’s, how are we carrying out the great commission? What are the uniquenesses of our doctrinal positions? So, you know, we need to be called to commit, but we need to know what we’d be joining. So for me, that’s why a membership class is

Steve Brown:
That’s really good stuff. People sometimes say, where do you go to church? And you say, I don’t, I’m just a Christian. And then I say, That means you have no convictions, you ought to at least stand up somewhere and let people know on whose side do you are. And church, listen, you say, you guys are silly. You don’t know what I’ve been through. Yes, we do. We know stories that would cause you to wince if Pete and I told you those stories, of course, we know that the church is a flawed institution.

Pete Alwinson:
Right, right.

Steve Brown:
But it’s a family.

Pete Alwinson:
It’s a family, every family’s flawed.

Steve Brown:
That’s so true. Why are there two different genealogies of Jesus in the Bible? One in Luke and one in Matthew.

Pete Alwinson:
How do you, how do you approach that? I mean, I have an explanation, but I want to hear yours first.

Steve Brown:
Well, I think that God in inspiring that, and by the way, you’re not the first one who pointed that out, the person that wrote this. It’s been there for 2000 years and everybody who’s ever read the New Testament knows there’s a contradiction. So, if the early Christians had been smart, they would’ve put only one in, but they put two in, so there’s a reason. And I think it’s a covering of the bases. One references to the supposed father, Joseph. And the other references, Mary. And, just to make sure that everybody knows. They’re, legally they include the, but I don’t know. I’m not sure.

Pete Alwinson:
No, I would agree with you. I think, that makes sense. And it’s really the identity of the Messiah. Right? And we have all these prophecies in the Old Testament about, who is the Messiah going to be? And so, once you get down to Matthew and Luke, you have the clarity of who he is. He’s the son of Adam and he’s the son of Abraham and he’t the son of David.

Steve Brown:
Yeah. All three. And both genealogies reference that particular

Pete Alwinson:
That’s right.

Steve Brown:
You ever preach a sermon on the subject.

Pete Alwinson:
Yeah, but I can’t remember what I said.

Steve Brown:
That’s dangerous territory.

Pete Alwinson:
It is. It is.

Steve Brown:
One of the interesting things is, and I forget which side, there’s a prostitute or two and in one of them. And I mean, these are not wonderful people that are part of our background. And we need to remember that, I think.

Pete Alwinson:
That’s amazing.

Steve Brown:
Yeah, it really is. What does the Bible teach about the end times? And this is for me, Pete, please do that in 30 seconds or less.

Pete Alwinson:
The Bible has so much to say about the end times or eschatology. Eschatology is simply the study of last things or end times. Jesus is coming again. There will be a final judgment. And if you believe in him, you’re good. You will be forgiven you. That judgment time, death is not our enemy.

Steve Brown:
And eventually, and every generation has thought that maybe their generation would be the one when Christ would return. And I think the Scriptures are written in a way to cause that, that’s our great hope and it’s something we look forward to. And, that’s a wonder, I had a lady when I was a teenager who was a Bible teacher for kids. And, she had a house up on the side of the mountain and I used to go to that thing on Monday nights. I had lost it pretty soon after that, but it was at least for a while I was there and she was called Aunt Gordy. And every morning she’d go out and open the windows in her kitchen, look out over the city, that was Asheville where I grew up. And then she would look up at the heaven and she would say maybe today, maybe today. And so, that’s our hope that maybe today, but maybe not today.

Pete Alwinson:
But maybe not. And so, Matthew 24 is the mini apocalypse. Revelation is the big apocalypse. Read Revelation for getting, images of what’s coming, but it’s a very complex look to unpack.

Steve Brown:
It really is. In fact, you had one of, you did a series, a long series on Revelation. One of the best I’ve ever heard. And I learned so much, so it’s fun to do that. That’s not the place where we create fellow, we don’t break fellowship over the millennial issue. But it’s fun, especially if you haven’t done that to begin to check what different Christians have said, how they see the book of Revelation. Someday, somebody’s going to be right.

Pete Alwinson:
Eschatology keeps us rooted in Jesus coming and not from the present pain.

Steve Brown:
That’s right.

Pete Alwinson:
It keeps us on mission.

Steve Brown:
And it’s especially important in our culture today.

Pete Alwinson:
Absolutely.

Steve Brown:
Guys, we’ve got to go, but first let me just thank you as always for being a part of this. We value you and your questions very much. And Key Life is a listener supported production of Key Life Network.

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