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Question #258

Can a divorced and remarried person become a member of the church?

Do you allow anyone to be a member of the church of Christ if they have been divorced and remarried? If a divorced member of your church wants to marry someone, would they be allowed to continue to be a member of the church? If not, could they live together and attend the church? If your spouse dies, are you allowed to remarry?

The Answer:

Assuming that you are inquiring concerning the teaching of scripture on the subject, the answers are:

  1. You do not state the reason for the divorce and remarriage. If the divorce is because of adultery on the part of both parties, the Lord will add them to the church when, as penitent believers, they are baptized into Christ. Acts 2:41, 47.

  2. If the divorce was not because of adultery, the answer is the same, but more is involved in repentance. See the discussion in Class: Questions, Lesson 2.

  3. The answers above apply to a divorced person who is a member of the church. If the remarriage is scriptural there is no problem; if the remarriage is unscriptural and admonition is refused, withdrawal of fellowship would be in order.

  4. Persons who live together without benefit of marriage and who refuse admonition to correct their lives, would also be subject to withdrawal of fellowship.

  5. If a spouse dies Romans 7:1-3 applies. Some believe that 1 Cor. 7:39-40 forbid a widow’s marrying one who is not a member of the body of Christ.

Finally, the question seems in concentrate on attendance at worship. There is no limitation on attendance at worship on the part of anyone. Indeed, even one from whom fellowship has been withdrawn may attend worship. The scripture teaches that such a person is not to be treated as an enemy but is to be entreated as a brother. 1 Thess. 3:14-15.

God's Plan of Salvation

You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)

You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)

You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)

You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)

Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)