"The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones" (Ezekiel 37:1). For this study, the valley of dry bones represents Believers who are dismembered from the local Church or unchurched Believers.
"Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD" (Ezekiel 37:4). Ezekiel was to prophesy to the bones, but the bone were to "hear the word of the LORD". If you are reading this article and are a Believer and unchurched, hear the word of the LORD. Listen and hear what God is speaking to you. Now someone may excuse himself by saying this is an Old Testament passage, but this theme of hearing is also in the last book of the New Testament. In fact, it is repeated seven times in a couple of chapters to the church. Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29, 3:6, 13, 22.
I. Different pictures of the church.
A. It is pictured as the temple of God.II. Why should one become a part to the local church body?1. "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?" (I Corinthians 6:19).B. It is pictured as a fold or flock of sheep.
2. "Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ" (I Peter 2:5).
3. "And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord" (Ephesians 2:20-21).1. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber" (John 10:1).C. It is pictured as the body of Christ.
2. "And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd" (John 10:16).
3. "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luke 12:32).
4. "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood" (Acts 20:28).
5. "Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind" (I Peter 5:2).1. "So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another" (Romans 12:5).
2. "For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ" (I Corinthians 12:12).
3. "For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:12-13).
A. Jesus Christ established the church.III. How does one become part of a local church body?1. "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18).B. It is a place to get fed the Word.
2. "And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence" (Colossians 1:18).1. "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood" (Acts 20:28).C. It is a good place to be water baptized and take of the Lord's supper.
2. "Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind" (I Peter 5:2).1. "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand soul" (Acts 2:41).D. God has ordained that the leaders are to care for our spiritual well being.
2. "For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come" (I Corinthians 11:26). The context is that of a church setting.1. "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you" (Hebrews 13:17).E. It is a place to serve God.
2. "For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock" (Acts 20:29). Lone sheep get eaten by the enemy.1. "So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness" (Romans 12:5-8).F. It is a place for spiritual growth to occur.
2. "For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another" (Galatians 5:13)"And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:11-13).G. God's Word commands Believers to assemble together and to encourage one another."Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching" (Hebrews 10:25).H. It is a place where others may supply what you are lacking."From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in lover" (Ephesians 4:16).I. The local church supplies a means of belonging.
"Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church" (I Corinthians 14:12)."Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls" (Acts 2:41)."Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved" (Acts 2:47).J. It is a place to find the presence of Christ."For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matthew 18:20).K. It is a place of Christian fellowship, prayer, and cooperate worship.
"In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ" (I Corinthians 5:4)."And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers" (Acts 2:42).L. It is a place to bring your tithes and offerings.
"Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints" (Ephesians 6:18).
"And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved" (Acts 2:46-47)."Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it" (Malachi 3:10).M. Spiritual strength comes through assembled unity."And five of you shall chase an hundred, and an hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight: and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword" (Leviticus 26:8).N. It is a place to receive deliverance and healing.
"And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18)."Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him" (James 5:14-16).
Although different churches may have different procedures for one to become a member of their local body, the following is a good guide.
A. Pray and ask God to direct you to the appropriate church. Although there may be several really good churches in your area, God has a perfect place for you in His body.IV. Choose a church where:"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me" (John 10:27).B. Make a commitment to God that you will become part of the local body of Christ.
"But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him" (I Corinthians 12:18)."I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus " (Philippians 3:14).C. Try attending several churches to find God's direction until you know by faith which church you are to join."After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not" (Acts 16:7).D. Don't be afraid to step somewhat out of your comfort zone if it doesn't violate your conscience.
"And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us" (Acts 16:9)."And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water" (Matthew 14:28). Peter had to get out of the boat to walk in the water.E. Talk with the pastor or other church leaders and ask about the following:"The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going" (Proverbs 14:15).
a.. Discover their basic doctrines.(1) Concerning creation.b. Discover their church polity (government type).
(2) Concerning the authority of the Bible.
(3) Concerning who Jesus is.
(4) Concerning salvation and eternal security.
(5) Concerning water baptism.
(6) Concerning the doctrine of the trinity.
(7) Concerning the work of the Holy Spirit.
(8) Concerning the gifts of the Spirit.
(9) Concerning the return of Christ.
(10) Concerning the final judgment.
c. Discover their vision for the local church body.
d. Discover what they expect of the membership.
e. Discover their approach to worship, fellowship, and evangelism.
f. Discover how one becomes a member of that particular local body.
A. The Bible is the sole authority for doctrine. (Psalms 119:105, II Timothy 3:16-17).V. Prepare for your ministry within the body:
B. Believers confess Jesus is Lord. (Romans 10:9-10, Philippians 2:9-11).
C. Believers are submitted to each other and Godly leadership. (Romans 13:1-7, Hebrews 13:17, Matthew 20:25-28).
D. Children are trained in the knowledge and admonition of the Lord. (Deuteronomy 6:7, Proverbs 22:6).
E. Believers of all ages are fed the Word of God. (John 21:15-17, I Peter 5:1-3).
F. Believers gather in the unity of the Spirit for prayer, Bible study, worship, and ministry. (Matthew 18:18-20, Ephesians 4:1-7).
G. Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers minister unto the body for the perfecting (maturing) of the saints for the work of the ministry. (Ephesians 4:8-16).
H. Everyone has the freedom in the Spirit to worship the Lord. (Psalms 47:1, 134:1-2, 138:1, 150:1-6).
I. Believers are encouraged to minister according to their spiritual gifts. (Romans 12:6-8, I Corinthians 12:1-12, I Peter 4:10-11).
J. The principles of the Kingdom are taught and practiced. (Hebrews 6:9, II Corinthians 1:20, Matthew 6:33).
K. Believers accept you and love you as a fellow-member in the Family of God. (Romans 14:1-3, I John 4:11, Ephesians 3:15).
L. Believers look forward to the return of the Lord Jesus. (Titus 2:13, I Thessalonians 4:14-18, Revelation 22:12).
M. Here are some questions to ask yourself:a. Do you sense God leading you to a specific local church?
b. Will you be fed there?
c. Are you willing to submit yourself to the authority of the pastor and church leadership?
d. Will you be loved and accepted there?
e. Do you see yourself serving God there?
A. Spend time reading, studying, and meditation on the Word of God.
B. Spend time in prayer.
C. Spend time in fellowship with other Believers.
D. Prayerfully begin to look to see how you may minister to the needs of others.
E. Take a spiritual gifts test to see how God has already gifted you for ministry.
F. Be sure that you are baptized in and filled with the Spirit.
G. Learn to live by the Grace of God.