Jonathan Leeman is a member at Capital Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC. He is the author of The Church and the Surprising Offense of God’s Love. He also serves as the editorial director for 9Marks Ministries.
Here are 25 quotes from his book, Church Membership: How the World Knows Who Represents Jesus (Crossway, 2012). You can purchase Leeman’s book by clicking the image to the left.
1. The local church does not exist by permission of the state. It exists by the express authorization of Jesus.
2. Jesus is the authority to which all other authorities must answer.
3. The local church is the authority on earth that Jesus has instituted to officially affirm and give shape to my Christian life and yours.
4. The Bible establishes the local church as your highest authority on earth when it comes to your discipleship to Christ and your citizenship in Christ’s present and promised nation.
5. The church begins with this fact: Jesus is Savior and Lord. He has died on the cross for the sins of everyone who would believe and follow him.
6. The Bible talks instead of how God’s people gather together under his supreme rule. It’s interested in the citizens of a kingdom, not club members.
7. A church’s authority gives shape to the family aspects of church life, the body aspects of church life, and so on.
8. A church member is someone who is formally recognized as a Christian and a part of Christ’s universal body.
9. The local church enables the world to look upon the canvas of God’s people and see an authentic painting of Christ’s love and holiness, not a forgery. And the local church lays down a pathway with guardrails and resting stations for the long journey of the Christian life.
10. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching. They share fellowship, the breaking of the bread, and prayer. They call themselves “believers” and share everything in common, including their possessions and goods as people have need (Acts 2:44-45).
11. Christians possess a special power and corporate identity when formally assembled.
12. The life and authority of the local church shape and orient the lives of its members.
13. No one gets saved and then wanders around by him or herself, thinking about whether to join a church. People repent and are then baptized into the fellowship of a church.
14. Looking to Christ as Lord means being united to Christ’s people.
15. What is church membership? It’s a declaration of citizenship in Christ’s kingdom.
16. Church membership is a formal relationship between a church and a Christian characterized by the church’s affirmation and oversight of a Christians’s discipleship and the Christian’s submission to living out his or her discipleship in the care of the church.
17. Church membership is all about a church taking specific responsibility for you, and you for a church.
18. Church membership begins when a local church affirms an individual Christian’s profession of faith.
19. Churches must not look for the people who are never jerks, but for the people who admit that they are jerks and willing to fight it.
20. Just as Christ submitted his whole life for our good, so we should submit our whole lives for one another’s good.
21. The local church community should be a place where Christians form and shape one another for good through all the dynamics of friendship.
22. Christians should look to the church for ethical instruction, counsel, accountability, and discipline in the matters that are addressed by God’s word.
23. Churches are filled with other sinners whose visions of glory contradict our own. But this is how Christ loved us, “Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another (John 13:34 ESV)”.
24. The underlying purpose in every act of discipline, of course, must be love: love for the individual, love for the church, love for the watching world, and love for Christ.
25. The church’s uppermost concern must be to guard the reputation of Christ.
Evan Knies is an undergraduate student at Boyce College where he studies Biblical and Theological Studies. He lives in Louisville, KY with his wife, Lauren. You can follow him on Twitter @Evan_Knies.