“For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6).
According to Charles Spurgeon:
The doctrine of the atonement is very simple. It just consists in the substitution of Christ in the place of sinner; Christ being treated as if he were the sinner, and then the transgressor being treated as if he were the righteous one. It is a change of persons; Christ becomes the sinner; He stands in the sinner’s place and stead; He was numbered with the transgressors; the sinner becomes righteous; he stands in Christ’s place and stead, and is numbered with the righteous ones. Christ has no sin of His own, but He takes human guilt, and is punished for human folly. We have no righteousness of our own, but we take the Divine righteousness; we are rewarded for it, and stand accepted before God as though that righteousness had been wrought out by ourselves. “In due time Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom. 5:6), that He might take away their sins [The King’s Highway (Houston: Christian Focus Publications, 1989), 25].
From church’s standpoint there is wisdom for taking time to get to know individuals before permitting them to join the church. As experiences tell us it is much easier to allow people to join the church than removing people (though the latter part is hardly seen in churches today). Hence, get to know potential applicants. It was one of ministry practices for the Puritan pastors to get to know the applicants through catechism classes (which lasted sometimes two years!) before allowing them to partake in the membership. This means even if he/she professes to be a Christian or show supposed affections for Christ and the local church. On this regard Charles Spurgeon offers following words:
If the professed convert distinctly and deliberately declares that he knows his Lord’s will but does not mean to attend to it, you are not to pamper his presumption, but it is your duty to assure him that he is not saved. Has not the Lord said, “He that taketh not up his cross, and cometh after Me, cannot be My disciple?” Mistakes as to what the Lord’s will may be are to be tenderly corrected, but anything like willful disobedience is fatal; to tolerate it would be treason to Him that sent us. Jesus must be received as King as well as Priest; and where there is any hesitancy about this, the foundation of godliness is not yet laid… Do not be in a hurry to count these supposed converts; do not take them into the church too soon; do not be too proud of their enthusiasm if it is not accompanied with some degree of softening and tenderness to show that the Holy Spirit has really been at work within them… Do not number your fishes before they are broiled; nor count your converts before you have tested and tried them [The Soul Winner (Ross-shire: Christian Focus Publications, 1992), 24-25, 26, 28].