Entering the Church
The Church of the Bible, Lesson 7 of 13
In our studies so far, we have seen the importance of the church. The Bible teaches that Christ died for the church (Ephesians 5:25). He purchased it with His own blood (Acts 20:28). He is the Savior of it (Ephesians 5:23). These questions are raised: Would Christ die for something that is not important? Would He shed His blood to buy a church that is worthless? Would He be the Savior of it if one can be saved outside of it? Surely, you would say "no" to each of one of these questions. Then why is it said the church is not important? Why is it said one can be saved without ever being a member of it? Simply because such people do not understand the church. They have been deceived into thinking this way.
Certainly the Bible does not teach that the church is the Savior. However, it does teach that one must be in the church to be saved. The ark was not the savior for Noah and his family. They had to be in the ark though to be saved from the flood. It is the same with the church. When one is saved, the Lord adds him to the church. When the people heard the gospel and obeyed it on the day of Pentecost, and the days following, the Bible says, "...And the Lord added to them day by day those that were saved" (Acts 2:47). So if one is saved, he is a member of the Lord's church. If he is not a member, he is not saved. It is just that simple. There is no such thing as being saved outside the church. One can be saved without being a member of a denomination or the sects of men. But he cannot be saved without being a member of the church of Christ!
Continuing our study, one CANNOT join the Lord's church. Instead, the Lord adds the saved to His church. Since He adds only the saved to the church, then the church is made up of the saved. The Lord looks on the heart, motives, etc., that produce the person's actions to see if he is sincerely obeying. If he is sincere, then God adds him to the church. If he is not, then he is not added by God, even though we may accept him. He has gone through the outward acts of obedience, but we are unable to look into his heart. If one could join the church, then all would be accepted regardless of their motives. This is why the Lord is responsible for each addition. He makes no mistake as to who should be among the saved. He knows who is only going through the actions and who is sincere.
Christ is the Savior of the church. He adds only the saved to it. One would then like to know what the Lord requires so that he might enter it. This is clearly set forth in God's Word. This is especially made clear in the different cases of conversion in the book of Acts. Note the steps or things needed to be done in order to be added to the Lord's church:
1. One must hear the truth. "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17).
2. He must believe in God and Christ. "But 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). Christ said, "Let not your heart be troubled: believe in God, believe also in me" (John 14:1).
3. He must repent of his sins. "I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all in like manner perish" (Luke 13:3).
4. He must confess Christ to be the Son of God. Christ said himself, "Every one therefore who shall confess me before men, him will I also confess before my Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 10:32).
5. And he must be baptized for the remission of his sins. This baptism is a burial in water (Romans 6:3,4; Acts 8:26-39). "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned" (Mark 16:16). "Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit'" (Acts 2:38).
Now what did we learn earlier in this lesson? We found that the Lord adds the saved to the church. This means that when one obeys the Lord and is saved, he is added to the church. Well, we have just seen that by hearing the truth, believing it, repenting of sins, confessing Christ, and being baptized, one is saved. Thus, when an individual does this, he is added to the church. That obedience to God is the plan by which we may be saved. The Lord then adds the saved to the church. Isn't that simple?
The Lord said the only way one can enter the kingdom of God is through being born of the water and of the Spirit (John 3:3-5). But what is the kingdom? It is the church (Matthew 16:18-19). Well, does the Lord have two ways for one to enter the church? NO! When one believes and is baptized (having been begotten by the Spirit through the Word and thereby obeying its teaching) then one is born into the kingdom of God. He is born into the family of God. He is added to the Lord's church.
Again, Paul says we are baptized into the body (1 Corinthians 12:13). But what is the body? It is the church (Colossians 1:18). How many are there? Just one (Ephesians 1:22-23; 4:4). How does one enter it? Through being baptized. But Christ says that one must believe and be baptized to be saved (Mark 16:16). Well, that is what the Corinthians did (Acts 18:8). Therefore, when one is baptized into the church, he becomes a part of it. He is added to it.
There is just one way to be saved, as we have seen. The Lord adds the saved to the church. Are you a member of the church you can read about in the Bible? If not, you are not saved. Investigate, study, and obey the Lord. He will then personally add you to His church.
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