Resolution On Regenerate Church Membership

It has been reported for several years that the SBC has over 16,000,000 million members, and we know that just over 6,000,000 are faithful attenders.  This may be because the majority of those whose names are on church rolls have never truly been born again, or have not been properly discipled.

The following is the resolution recently passed by majority vote of those present at the annual SBC meeting in Indianapolis, IN..  There is one thing for sure.  The Church of Jesus Christ is made up of only those who know Jesus and are known by Him.  I am one who is happy that this resolution has passed.  It is not the answer to the problem, but it is an encouragement.

Here is the resolution in its entirety from the BaptistPress blog:

Complete text of amended membership resolution
Wednesday, June 11, 2008 – 4:43:00 PM

Following is the amended version of the resolution passed this morning, “On Regenerate Church Membership and Church Member Restoration.” Messengers passed two amendments to the original resolution. (See previous post in this blog.) Additions are in bold here:

 

WHEREAS, The ideal of a regenerate church membership has long been and remains a cherished Baptist principle, with Article VI of the Baptist Faith and Message describing the church as a “local congregation of baptized believers”; and

 

WHEREAS, A New Testament church is composed only of those who have been born again by the Holy Spirit through the preaching of the Word, becoming disciples of Jesus Christ, the local church’s only Lord, by grace through faith (John 3:5; Ephesians 2:8-9), which church practices believers’ only baptism by immersion (Matthew 28:16-20), and the Lord’s supper (Matthew 26:26-30); and

 

WHEREAS, Local associations, state conventions, and the Southern Baptist Convention compile statistics reported by the churches to make decisions for the future; and

 

WHEREAS, the 2007 Southern Baptist Convention annual Church Profiles indicate that there are 16,266,920 members in Southern Baptist churches; and

 

WHEREAS, Those same profiles indicate that only 6,148,868 of those members attend a primary worship service of their church in a typical week; and

 

WHEREAS, The Scriptures admonish us to exercise church discipline as we seek to restore any professed brother or sister in Christ who has strayed from the truth and is in sin (Matthew 18:15-35; Galatians 6:1); and now, therefore, be it

 

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana, June 10-11, 2008, urge churches to maintain a regenerate membership by acknowledging the necessity of spiritual regeneration and Christ’s lordship for all members; and be it further

 

RESOLVED, That we humbly urge our churches to maintain accurate membership rolls for the purpose of fostering ministry and accountability among all members of the congregation; and be it further

 

RESOLVED, That we urge the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention to repent of the failure among us to live up to our professed commitment to regenerate church membership and any failure to obey Jesus Christ in the practice of lovingly correcting wayward church members (Matthew 18:15-18); and be it further

 

RESOLVED, That we humbly encourage denominational servants to support and encourage churches that seek to recover and implement our Savior’s teachings on church discipline, even if such efforts result in the reduction in the number of members that are reported in those churches, and be it finally

 

RESOLVED, That we humbly urge the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention and their pastors to implement a plan to minister to, counsel, and restore wayward church members based upon the commands and principles given in Scripture (Matthew 18:15-35; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15; Galatians 6:1; James 5:19-20).

 

That which is in bold print are ammendments which were not part of the first presentation, and were passed by the body.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Joshua, The High Priest

In beginning this chapter there are five characters shown which we are to identify. The first is the LORD; then; the Angel of the LORD; then Satan; the angel who is speaking to the prophet; and Zechariah, the prophet. Zechariah is the one who is viewing the vision which is being written.

“Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him. The LORD said ot Satan, ‘The LORD rebuke you Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?” Zechariah 3:1-2 (NKJV)

The one who shows Zechariah that the high priest is Joshua is the angel who has been communicating with him so far. Just where Joshua fits in is only to be figured out from the study of these verses.

Joshua, the High Priest has come out of captivity with the first returning group. He is named by the prophet Haggai, as being the “son of Jehozadak, the high priest” (Haggai 1:1), and by Ezra the scribe (Ezra 3:2; 5:2). This is clearly an actual High Priest who is representing the nation of Israel, being restored to their land.

The Angel of the LORD must be a Theophany, or as I have stated previously, a pre-incarnate manifestation of Jesus Christ. This seems to be quite the picture. The High Priest Joshua standing before the Theophany of Christ, and Satan – the devil – standing at the right hand of Joshua. Satan is standing there in opposition to him. The devil hates the people of Israel, and he hates any of the Church of Jesus Christ. He stands opposed to any and all who will stand with the LORD and His Word, and His Son.

Joshua, also stands before the LORD in “filthy garments” (v. 3). This is significant in that Joshua the priest represents the nation; they too are filthy with their worship of idols, and their empty attempt to maintain their worship of God. When you turn from the LORD to worship anything else it is clear hypocrisy to “maintain” the empty worship attempts. The nation had committed spiritual adultery against the LORD, despised the sacrifices, despised the Sabbaths, despised their feast days, and worst of all despised the LORD God who had delivered them out of Egyptian bondage, and kept them secure.

God, the LORD, would do a mighty work in them again. He would deliver them from their filth, and filthy garments, restore them to their lands, and remove the reproach of the devil.

One thing I want to point out is that it seems some what odd that the LORD would say, “the LORD rebuke you Satan!” Maybe it is the power of His name, or the use of His name that causes the devil to flee. The Psalmist did write, “For You have magnified Your word above all Your name.” (Psalm 138:2). It only shows that His Person and His name are equal. His Word is as good as His name.

These are all reassuring words for a nation which has come out of captivity. For them to have the Word of the LORD revealed to them concerning their future surely would give them hope, increase their faith, and draw them nearer to the LORD. Things are happening with the nation just as the prophets before the captivity had said. Isaiah warned them of it happening. Jeremiah warned them it was coming, and both tell us they would return. Jeremiah revealed that they would be in captivity for seventy years (Jeremiah 25:11-12; 29:10), and Daniel the prophet put great hope in this promise (Daniel 9:2, 24).

Satan has gone to great extremes to extinguish the people of Israel. There are examples in the Old Testament. Their wicked practices caused them to turn their backs on the LORD, thus, the LORD sent their enemies to conquer them, and humble them, to call on His holy name. My, how stubborn we human beings can be. Over and over and over again the LORD seeks them out, calls them to return to Him, and many times, for a short time they have; and there has always been a remnant of those who were faithful to continue with the LORD.

Into captiviity they were taken. Many times beaten, flogged, ravaged, and always pillaged for the gold and silver of the temple and other possessions. The LORD’s rebuke of Satan is powerful, and he is unable to combat the Word of the LORD. When we have an example of the LORD Himself speaking His Word to rebuke the devil, we can certainly do no better.

“A brand plucked from the fire…” is speaking of the nation and their being in the fire of the trials of captivity. Yes! We can even look through Scripture and find that many of them that went into captivity made good for themselves. They began to fit right into the society of Babylon, and Shushan, and there were many who had become so successful there they did not want to leave. They had turned their backs on the true God, honoring other gods, and were quite comfortable living in captivity. They were the “brand plucked from the fire”.

The previous paragraph shows us strongly the peril Christians face as we conform to society rather than being transformed by the renewing of our minds. Paul the apostle wrote many years following the return of the captives to Jerusalem, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2 (NKJV). Woe be to the Christians today who become so comfortable, lethargic, and complacent to what goes on around us. We are pressured every day to conform to the idea of many gods, many roads, or ways to heaven, and don’t be so narrow minded. Just conform. Just get along. Don’t rock the boat.

We have this assurance that the LORD has rebuked Satan. He can do nothing to one of God’s children without the permission of our Heavenly Father. Satan desired to sift Peter as wheat, but the Lord Jesus prayed for Peter (Luke 22:31-32). We too have an Advocate with the Father. His name is Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God. We too have been plucked from the fire. Our High Priest is Jesus. Joshua, as many of you know is the Hebrew name for Jesus. The names mean, “The Lord is salvation”.

-Tim A. Blankenship