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#37467 - Fri Aug 17, 2007 1:38 PM Re: Muslim becomes Christian and so does his wives... [Re: J_Edwards]  
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Dear Joe,

It's great to see you posting again, even if for only a little while.

I must say that you seem to be advocating what I have long understood to be church order in baptism and discipleship rooted in eg Mt 28:19-20 and subsequent NT practice. It is what I have seen my elders practice as well. If a person comes confessing Christ and requesting baptism they will be charitably received and taken through a short series--I forget, maybe 4 to 6--of sessions on the gospel essentials. Those who find during this phase that their confession differs from the true faith are then answerable to the Lord if they hypocritcally proceed with baptism, and some remove themselves with that understanding, while some undoubtedly slip in falsely. But I cannot see that we have warrant to treat all seedlings in the house of the Lord as potential tares; the epistles just don't read that way.

That then leaves the life alteration questions--eg polygamous relationships--to be worked out as they surface--and clearly the big ones like this must be worked out immediately as part of "renouncing the works of the devil"--in the context of the life of discipleship under the care of the church. While the "good confession" will entail a sincere desire to put all things right, who can have put all things right before baptism? I wonder what form of restitution was Saul required to provide for his very recent evil behavior before Ananias welcomed him into the church?


In Christ,
Paul S
#37468 - Fri Aug 17, 2007 5:35 PM Re: Muslim becomes Christian and so does his wives... [Re: Paul_S]  
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Quote
Paul_S said:
I must say that you seem to be advocating what I have long understood to be church order in baptism and discipleship rooted in eg Mt 28:19-20 and subsequent NT practice. It is what I have seen my elders practice as well. If a person comes confessing Christ and requesting baptism they will be charitably received and taken through a short series--I forget, maybe 4 to 6--of sessions on the gospel essentials. <span style="background-color:yellow">Those who find during this phase that their confession differs from the true faith are then answerable to the Lord if they hypocritcally proceed with baptism,</span> and some remove themselves with that understanding, while some undoubtedly slip in falsely. But I cannot see that we have warrant to treat all seedlings in the house of the Lord as potential tares; the epistles just don't read that way.

Paul,

Obviously, I am going to have to disagree with how read the Epistles in regard to how a stranger professing to be a Christian is to be deemed prior to examination. <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> But I am especially disturbed by the highlighted section so I need to ask for further clarification to be sure I am understanding the practice in your church. The way it appears to read is that if someone during the course of the "sessions on the gospel essentials" is found to be a variance with those essentials, they are still permitted to be baptized and the onus is upon the individual for submitting to it. Is that a correct understanding of how things are done in your church?

Quote
Paul_S said:
That then leaves the life alteration questions--eg polygamous relationships--to be worked out as they surface--and clearly the big ones like this must be worked out immediately as part of "renouncing the works of the devil"--in the context of the life of discipleship under the care of the church. While the "good confession" will entail a sincere desire to put all things right, who can have put all things right before baptism? I wonder what form of restitution was Saul required to provide for his very recent evil behavior before Ananias welcomed him into the church?

Again, on this issue of a polygamist applying for church membership and baptism, I am just a wee bit unsure of what you are advocating? <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/scratch1.gif" alt="" /> Are you equating the apostle Paul's former acts against the Church with a polygamist relationship? Is not all outward sin to be forsaken before one can be received into fellowship? Would you take the same position if a practicing homosexual applied for membership and baptism? i.e., he should be allowed to be baptized and received into full communion in the body of Christ? Surely, if Paul had continued to persecute the Church, he would not have been received into fellowship by the other disciples, no? But he did clearly repent of his former acts and consequently was received . . . but not before.

In His grace,


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#37469 - Fri Aug 17, 2007 7:26 PM Re: Muslim becomes Christian and so does his wives... [Re: J_Edwards]  
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Tom Offline
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Joe

Thank you for responding. I was going to respond to Pilgrim, because I believed that he misrepresented what you said. However, since I didn't know for sure until now I thought it would be better to let well enough alone.
Just so you know, I don't actually think Pilgrim intentionally misrepresented you. I think he would have been better off asking you to clarify yourself, before he made those statements.

Tom

#37470 - Fri Aug 17, 2007 8:35 PM Re: Muslim becomes Christian and so does his wives... [Re: Pilgrim]  
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Jeff,

The thread began with an issue of case law but has focussed on one aspect of its application, viz. the examiners' presumption of the presence or absence of saving faith in the baptismal candidate. While not explicitly stated, my response to Joe began in reference to that aspect; I maintain, as he apparently does, that the presumption of the presence of saving faith is biblically properly held until such time as either:

1) the examiner determines that the candidate's confession is not genuine and removes him from consideration, or

2) the candidate realizes that his confession is not genuine and removes himself from consideration, or

3) the candidate hypocritally defends his non-genuine confession on terms sufficient to persuade the examiner, and is admitted to baptism.

If you read what I stated:
Quote
Those who find during this phase that their confession differs from the true faith are then answerable to the Lord if they hypocritcally proceed with baptism, and some remove themselves with that understanding, while some undoubtedly slip in falsely.

there is not a single reference to any action of the examiner; I was referring solely to possibilities #2 and #3 above (#1 seemed so obvious as to need no inclusion). But in your request for clarification
Quote
The way it appears to read is that if someone during the course of the "sessions on the gospel essentials" is found to be a variance with those essentials, they are still permitted to be baptized and the onus is upon the individual for submitting to it.

you are referring to the decision of the examiner, my #1 in the above list, and not the candidate's own self-examination which I was referring to, thus conflating the issue.

Quote
Is that a correct understanding of how things are done in your church?

Saddened that this question apparently needs to be asked by one holding to the principle of presumption of unbelief apart from established credibility: no.


In Christ,
Paul S
#37471 - Fri Aug 17, 2007 9:21 PM Re: Muslim becomes Christian and so does his wives... [Re: Paul_S]  
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Pilgrim Offline
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Quote
Paul_S replied:
In regard to what I wrote:

Quote
The way it appears to read is that if someone during the course of the "sessions on the gospel essentials" is found to be a variance with those essentials, they are still permitted to be baptized and the onus is upon the individual for submitting to it.

you are referring to the decision of the examiner, my #1 in the above list, and not the candidate's own self-examination which I was referring to, thus conflating the issue.

Quote
Is that a correct understanding of how things are done in your church?

Saddened that this question apparently needs to be asked by one holding to the principle of presumption of unbelief apart from established credibility: no.

Hehe... sorry you are saddened. And how my presumption, apparently an objectionable one to you, has any bearing upon me asking the question, I am at a loss to know why. Nevertheless, I do thank you for clarifying your statement and it now appears clear to me that what you intended to relate is that the one being examined, even though knowing his profession of faith is at variance with the doctrines of the church, through deception, convinces the examiner(s) otherwise, i.e., he is in agreement with the doctrines and requirements of the church in regard to membership and baptism he is thus accepted. What threw me was "is found to be", which to me connotes the being "found" refers to the examiner and not to the one being examined.

Case closed. <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

In His grace,


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#37472 - Sat Aug 18, 2007 7:43 AM Re: Muslim becomes Christian and so does his wives... [Re: Paul_S]  
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Paul S,

Thanks for the ever so kind words.

As I understand your church’s methodology is sounds fine. I enjoy this methodology: use 12 lessons (1.5 hours each) on the Gospel essentials (God, Christ, Holy Spirit, the 5 points, Scripture, Prayer, Church/Discipline, and Sanctification). The baptizing elder (normally not the pastor) will interview the candidates both before and after they attend the lessons (there would be more in the case of this Muslim and his wives to biblically assist in cleaning up the polygamy mess, etc.). There are 3 elder and 3 deacon families assigned to the class. Each husband/wife team gives their salvation testimony during the first 6 lessons. Moreover, each candidate – from lesson 7 forward, will also give their salvation testimony once during this time. Candidates hear the Gospel repeatedly (as with Simon who repeated heard the teaching not only Philip, but of John and Peter also – Acts 8, note that out of all that were baptized Peter, not Philip, discerned the faulty profession of one, Simon, who was already baptized. Thus, our use of multiple elders, etc.). Elder and deacon couples are also assigned no more than 2 new converts (the class has no more than 12 new converts in it, normally less). They do social functions together, eat out, visit at each other’s homes, etc. (note: they are assigned just prior to their baptism to spiritual mentors, which continue to assist them with their growth in Christ after baptism). During the course of the entire 12 weeks if a person’s profession is found to be defective – either in word or by deed – their baptism is not considered until the matter(s) are resolved – So, it works as far as it goes. But, nothing here is perfect.

However, we can never, no matter how much examination we do, guarantee that some Simon (Acts 8) won’t slip through. Even if we could, the matter that paedos baptize infants and they are part of the covenant community prior to any profession does not allow us to "fully" guard the community. Indeed, a non-professing baptized child, though part of the covenant community, should be treated differently than a new convert who is professing Christ as his LORD and Savior.


Reformed and Always Reforming,
#37473 - Sat Aug 18, 2007 12:25 PM Re: Muslim becomes Christian and so does his wives... [Re: Adopted]  
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As I stated previousily I was NOT offended and thus there is NOTHING to forgive.


Reformed and Always Reforming,
#37474 - Sat Aug 25, 2007 1:06 PM Re: Muslim becomes Christian and so does his wives [Re: J_Edwards]  
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Where is the example of "examination' found in the writ? The colonial puritans errored greatly with this. The examinations were brutal and long. People began to find out the 'rigght' answers and just say them.


There never was a sinner half as big as Christ is as a Savior.
#37475 - Sat Aug 25, 2007 3:20 PM Re: Muslim becomes Christian and so does his wives [Re: Joe k]  
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JoeK,

When the church first began, the Holy Spirit was moving in a marvelous and yet very specific way. “Basically” they baptized many and very fast. However, in God’s providence such an event has never taken place since – and neither can it because the church is no longer in its infancy. As time progressed, the church became wiser to the fact that people could just “say the truth” and not really know it. They saw that heretics were coming into their ranks and corrupting “God’s church.” As the church grew so did its wisdom. Thus, as in Paul’s later writings we see such things as “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thess. 5:21) and for the office of a deacon, “… And let these also first be proved …” (1 Tim. 3:10). However, as early as in Galatians we see Paul’s words, “Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things” (Gal. 6:6) indicating a formal preparation for entrance into the Church.

Quote
Let him who receives instruction—literally, the catechumen, a word that is still being used in religious circles—in the Word share all good things with his instructor, that is, with the catechist? It is worthy of note that even at this very early date there was in existence something similar to today’s official Christian ministry. Cf. I Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:11. [William Hendriksen]

In other words, the teacher relieves the ignorance of the pupil catechumen; the pupil should relieve the teacher of concern for his subsistence. How was this done? The Greek word used to describe the shared life of the people of God was koinonia. Our best word for it in English is “fellowship,” but this is far too limited to encompass the meaning of the Greek. Koinonia means sharing, all kinds of sharing: sharing in friendship (Acts 2:42), being partners in the gospel (Phil. 1:5), sharing material possessions (2 Cor. 8:4), having fellowship in Christ (1 Cor. 1:9), and sharing life together in the Spirit (2 Cor. 13:14). Above all, koinonia is fellowship with God. “That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship” (koinonia, 1 John 1:3) — that life we share with the Father and his Son Jesus Christ.

Justin Martyr (app. 165) in his first Apology described the catechumenate and Tertulian (app. 220) coined the title “catechumen.” The catechumenate involved several stages, each with a catechetical, ascetical and liturgical facet, and usually lasted three years.

But, please understand that we do not need a direct Scripture that says, “examine all converts before baptism,” but doctrine may be established by the good and necessary consequence of all scripture. The church is not to baptize as ostriches, that is with their head in the sand, but upright, knowing as well as they may what and who they are baptizing. And yes, while one may memorize answers, the interviewer is looking for more than just mere words, but also the person’s way of life – through (koinonia). This is the reason why there should be relaxed social gatherings and such with new converts. As Poythress states, “Indifferentism presumes that church members are secure and so neglects exhorting them to grow and rebuking them for sin. Rigorism makes the standards of admission to the church so high that only the spiritually mature can meet them. Both indifferentism and rigorism are contrary to the biblical picture of gradual growth in maturity through active participation in the life of the body (Eph 4:11-16).”


Reformed and Always Reforming,
#37476 - Sat Aug 25, 2007 3:58 PM Re: Muslim becomes Christian and so does his wives [Re: J_Edwards]  
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Joe k Offline
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Quote
J_Edwards said:
JoeK,

When the church first began, the Holy Spirit was moving in a marvelous and yet very specific way. “Basically” they baptized many and very fast. However, in God’s providence such an event has never taken place since – and neither can it because the church is no longer in its infancy. As time progressed, the church became wiser to the fact that people could just “say the truth” and not really know it. They saw that heretics were coming into their ranks and corrupting “God’s church.” As the church grew so did its wisdom. Thus, as in Paul’s later writings we see such things as “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thess. 5:21) and for the office of a deacon, “… And let these also first be proved …” (1 Tim. 3:10). However, as early as in Galatians we see Paul’s words, “Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things” (Gal. 6:6) indicating a formal preparation for entrance into the Church.

Quote
Let him who receives instruction—literally, the catechumen, a word that is still being used in religious circles—in the Word share all good things with his instructor, that is, with the catechist? It is worthy of note that even at this very early date there was in existence something similar to today’s official Christian ministry. Cf. I Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:11. [William Hendriksen]

In other words, the teacher relieves the ignorance of the pupil catechumen; the pupil should relieve the teacher of concern for his subsistence. How was this done? The Greek word used to describe the shared life of the people of God was koinonia. Our best word for it in English is “fellowship,” but this is far too limited to encompass the meaning of the Greek. Koinonia means sharing, all kinds of sharing: sharing in friendship (Acts 2:42), being partners in the gospel (Phil. 1:5), sharing material possessions (2 Cor. 8:4), having fellowship in Christ (1 Cor. 1:9), and sharing life together in the Spirit (2 Cor. 13:14). Above all, koinonia is fellowship with God. “That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship” (koinonia, 1 John 1:3) — that life we share with the Father and his Son Jesus Christ.

Justin Martyr (app. 165) in his first Apology described the catechumenate and Tertulian (app. 220) coined the title “catechumen.” The catechumenate involved several stages, each with a catechetical, ascetical and liturgical facet, and usually lasted three years.

But, please understand that we do not need a direct Scripture that says, “examine all converts before baptism,” but doctrine may be established by the good and necessary consequence of all scripture. The church is not to baptize as ostriches, that is with their head in the sand, but upright, knowing as well as they may what and who they are baptizing. And yes, while one may memorize answers, the interviewer is looking for more than just mere words, but also the person’s way of life – through (koinonia). This is the reason why there should be relaxed social gatherings and such with new converts. As Poythress states, “Indifferentism presumes that church members are secure and so neglects exhorting them to grow and rebuking them for sin. Rigorism makes the standards of admission to the church so high that only the spiritually mature can meet them. Both indifferentism and rigorism are contrary to the biblical picture of gradual growth in maturity through active participation in the life of the body (Eph 4:11-16).”


Joe:

I agree the other extreme must not be taken. But as I stated their is ample evidence of puritan abuse, ie Edwards and company destroying the simple and making it a litmus test of grueling tedious unscriptural examinations. All i see in the writ is people who recognize jesus as THE Christ, were added. You were either a believer in the One True God or not. For instance, if a person was asked to profess, and he said "I am not sure about this or that, but I do know that I once was blind and now I see" I would welcome him with open arms.

Skepticism towards a profession, of which Pilgrim appears to espouse, leads to fruit inspectors. I have no toleration for that approach. But this is in line with the puritans.


There never was a sinner half as big as Christ is as a Savior.
#37477 - Sat Aug 25, 2007 6:10 PM Re: Muslim becomes Christian and so does his wives [Re: Joe k]  
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Quote
Joe k said:
All i see in the writ is people who recognize jesus as THE Christ, were added. You were either a believer in the One True God or not. For instance, if a person was asked to profess, and he said "I am not sure about this or that, but I do know that I once was blind and now I see" I would welcome him with open arms.

Methinks this is naiveté at best. The profession of some we read of in Scripture should not be taken as a complete record of what transpired. Remember, many (most?) of what we read in the Gospels is a summarization of events. Most who professed Christ had listened to Christ on at least one occasion if not many times before. And Jesus' lectures/sermons were not 15 minute sound bytes which is common today. Further, after Pentecost the disciples taught everywhere; sometimes for days or weeks or even months at a time. The point being, most of those who we read professed to believe in Christ had been taught more than the "Four Spiritual Laws".

Secondly, Joe is correct in that a proper examination will consist of much more than a few questions about doctrine. One should be asked experimental questions as well in order to try and discern the heart and life of the individual and not just what they may have in the way of head knowledge. As you noted, and to which I heartily agree, it is easy for someone to simply parrot learned answers, which most every young person or adult can do and are required to do after going through a Catechism class.

Thirdly, methinks you have embraced a caricature image of how Jonathan Edwards and most of the Puritans conducted themselves in this area. I think you would find that the Puritans had "wide hearts" and their concern for a person's soul was more than genuine. I don't know where you got this idea that the Puritans put every person who desired to become a member of the church through some kind of Gestapo-inspired ordeal. But I have not yet read of anything like that.

Quote
Joe k said:
Skepticism toward a profession, of which Pilgrim appears to espouse, leads to fruit inspectors. I have no toleration for that approach. But this is in line with the puritans.

And I say, anyone who thinks the majority of people who have "asked Jesus into their heart" is regenerate is a bit foolish. Scripture specifically enjoins us to be "fruit inspectors" as you phrased it:


Matthew 7:15-16 (ASV) "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves. By their fruits ye shall know them. Do [men] gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?" . . . 18-20 "A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Therefore by their fruits ye shall know them." (cf. Jude 1:10-19)


In His grace,


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simul iustus et peccator

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#37478 - Sat Aug 25, 2007 8:38 PM Re: Muslim becomes Christian and so does his wives [Re: Pilgrim]  
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Pilgrim:

Scripture does not allow for the abuse in this area. COnversion naratives as espoused in the puritan experiment are not scriptural. There is much said on the topic. You ended up with some ridiculous "Half-Way COvenant" at best. Men are added first by the power of the Holy Spirit, then taught through their conversion. If I am understanding you correctly, you have it the other way around.


There is absolutely no evidence in the writ of having to give a conversion experience in length or depth as was required and still is by some..

"The practice was for men orally [women in writing] to make confession of faith and a declaration of their experiences of a worke of grace in the presence of the whole congregation, having bin examined and heard before by the elders in private and then stood propounded in publick for two or three weeks ordinarily," John Cotton [the younger], 1679.

Again, the above is not scriptural.

Perhaps you are not far from allowing 'spectral evidence' given against a professing applicant..


There never was a sinner half as big as Christ is as a Savior.
#37479 - Sat Aug 25, 2007 9:37 PM Re: Muslim becomes Christian and so does his wives [Re: Joe k]  
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Joe,

Just as a reminder, this "half-way covenant" was duly opposed by Edwards. That was the main reason behind his breaking away from his grandfather Stoddard. This "half-way covenant" is not dissimilar to that which is practiced in most Continental Reformed churches and in some Presbyterian churches today. Read Kuyper, Schilder, &co., and you will see there are many similarities. <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

Abuses do not annul that which is required. The vast majority of churches today have little to do with private examination of applicants and consequently, entire congregations of unbelievers are "blessed" of the man behind a pulpit and assured that they are all destined for glory. What you are referring to, the extreme practices by a few, should not and cannot do away with what should be done. If I am to err I would much rather it be on being too "strict" as opposed to opening a "wide gate" and in do doing bring a false assurance to those who need Christ.

If Scripture commands that a person examine himself over the course of their lifetime, a short session before the Elders asking as to what is believed and what is in one's heart before one is admitted into the assembly is hardly something to oppose. Remember, to the church is given the "keys of the kingdom" with which the door is either locked or opened. <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />

In His grace,


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simul iustus et peccator

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#37480 - Sun Aug 26, 2007 7:17 AM Re: Muslim becomes Christian and so does his wives [Re: Pilgrim]  
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Pilgrim said:
Joe,
If Scripture commands that a person examine himself over the course of their lifetime, a short session before the Elders asking as to what is believed and what is in one's heart before one is admitted into the assembly is hardly something to oppose. Remember, to the church is given the "keys of the kingdom" with which the door is either locked or opened. <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />

In His grace,


Pilgrim I applaud some sort of litmus test with a hearty Amen. What I dont applaud is when one takes self examination to mean a morbid introspection, and examination of others to look at their lifes by the fruit only. They should be added on confession of belief, recognition of sin, and repentance. There MUST not be a long lag between that and full membership in the body.


There never was a sinner half as big as Christ is as a Savior.
#37481 - Sun Aug 26, 2007 12:10 PM Re: Muslim becomes Christian and so does his wives [Re: Joe k]  
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Joe k said:
Pilgrim I applaud some sort of litmus test with a hearty Amen. What I dont applaud is when one takes self examination to mean a morbid introspection, and examination of others to look at their lifes by the fruit only. They should be added on confession of belief, recognition of sin, and repentance. There MUST not be a long lag between that and full membership in the body.

Joe,

We can agree about the "morbid introspection" and most of the Puritans would also heartily agree. There a few denominations which still practice/encourage what we would call "morbid introspection", e.g., the NRC. And it seems we can agree that an examination by the Elders of prospective members is necessary. That examination should address the areas of doctrine, experimental and life. However, I am unsure about what you mean by a "long lag between that and full membership"? <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/shrug.gif" alt="" /> A person may be genuinely converted yet not seek membership in a local assembly for various reasons, e.g., the difficulty in finding one that is a true church, location of the individual and a good church, reluctance on the part of an individual to join any church due to lack of understanding, etc. And, if you mean by that some long examination process on the part of the church, e.g., weeks of grueling interrogation, then that would be unacceptable.

If one is examined rightly by the Elders and found to have a valid profession of faith in the above three areas I mentioned, then there is no reason to delay full communion. Further training/education should be recommended to all new members, however. And a true convert shouldn't have any objections to that recommendation at all. In fact, one who has come to Christ should/will most naturally want to seek such things, IMHO. <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

In His grace,


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simul iustus et peccator

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