Church Membership & Baptism
We have a formal church membership because we believe this is what the Bible teaches about the nature of the church and of being a Christian.
Church membership in the Bible
The pictures of the church in the New Testament speak of a committed community. A very helpful picture is that of a family [Ephesians 2:19-22]. Also the church is described as a body [1 Corinthians 12:27]. Other examples are a temple of living stones all interconnected. Each suggests a community closely bound together and recognisably committed to each other.
The church has a leadership serving the members. There are elders and deacons [1 Timothy 3]. However, all members of the church are in volved in serving and spiritual encouragement and in church discipline. [Acts 6:5; Titus 1:5; Matthew 18:17; 2 Corinthians 2:6; Hebrews 10:25].
What does being a member mean in practise?
It means you have identified with the church family. It is a practical and meaningful way of obeying Jesus' command to love one another. It means you have shown yourself to be committed to Christ's church not just a selected group of friends. It means that you know the other church members are committed to you. It means you are under pastoral leadership and care of the eldership. They are committed to the promotion of your spiritual health. It means you are involved in the praying and decision-making in church life.
How important is church membership?
Not to be ready to be openly committed to a fellowship of believers seems to fall short of of God's desire for His children. The entire New Testament demonstrates that the Lord works through His church of which He is the Head. Being afraid of commitment and operating on the basis of loose affiliations among chosen Christian friends does not do justice to the New Testament teaching on the church.
It is important for our accountability as Christians. It is important for our guidance. It is important that together we seek to know how great is the love of God.
Church membership and baptism
The church is the community of the baptised. We believe that baptism is the New Testament sign of personal faith in Christ. So membership is for such people.
Baptism is commanded in the New Testament by Christ [Matthew 28:19].
Christ Himself was baptised [Matthew 3: 13-17].
Baptism was commanded by the Apostles [Acts 2:38].
Baptism is seen throughout the early church [Acts 2:41; 8:36-39; 9:18; 10:47].
The meaning of baptism:
The word “baptise” means to completely immerse. Therefore, baptism in the Bible, is to immerse in water.
It began as a Jewish washing ritual but in the New Testament it is the symbol of the removal of sin [Acts 22:16].
The New testament teaches that this act pictures our dying with Christ and rising to new life [Romans 6:3-5 and Colossians 2:12]. The Christian “dies” to the old life leaving it behind and having been buried. They now enjoy new life in Christ. Baptism symbolises our union with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection.
This is an identification with Christ and with His church [Ephesians 4:4-6].
Bible proofs of baptism by immersion:
John the Baptist chose to baptise where there was plenty of water [John 3:23]. The description of Jesus' batpism [Mark 1:5 & 10] indicates a going down and coming up. Paul's argument with reference to the Christian's union with Christ in Romans 6 is totally dependent on baptism by full immersion. So, under normal circumstances, we should baptise by immersion.
Who should be baptised?
Baptism is for those who come to Christ in repentence and faith openly confessing Him as Saviour and Lord of their lives. Infants, of course, cannot believe or express a personal faith in Christ. We must remember that baptism is a rich picture of expressing publicly the fact that we now belong to Jesus.
RRBC and baptism:
We are delighted to talk to anyone who has questions about baptism or feels themself ready to confess Christ in this way. Such candidates would be asked to share their testimony with the elders. The elders would want to know all about a person's faith and what difference it had made in their lives. The elders would want to know that this person had a real understanding of basic Bible teaching. We baptise people in good faith that they live their lives under the Lordship of Christ.