Essays & Theses

How Does One Get Into the Church Christ Built

Sometimes one hears the phrase join the church. One can join a denomination by doing this or that but it is impossible to join the church Christ built. Here is why and how you enter his church.
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  How Does One Get Into the Church Christ Built? Not a single denominational church was built by Christ for he built his church, oneand only, in the first century hundreds of years before any denominations came intoexistence. The New Testament scriptures written after the gospels and Acts chapter2 all refer to the church as a then existing organization. Paul wrote to variouschurches. Jesus in the book of Revelation instructs John to write to the 7 churchesof Asia. The real question men and women need to be seeking an answer to is nothow do I get into this denomination or that one but how do I get into the churchChrist built?One must understand that being in the church Christ built is an entirely differentthing than being in a denomination. One can readily be in a denomination and yetoutside the church Jesus built. If being in a denomination is the same as being inthe church built by Jesus then the denomination has no reason for existence andshould drop its denominational name and associations and just call itself what itwould be under those circumstances – the church of God, the church of Christ, thechurch, or some other scriptural name or designation. It would be “the church” andnot “a denomination.”In this article I am not concerned about how one gets into X,Y, or Z denominationbut with how one gets into Christ’s church. Certainly, there are steps to be taken asthere are steps to be taken before one can enter any institution. One must be madeaware of the institution, what it does, and what purpose it serves before any desirecan be created to join it. So it is with the church Jesus built.Many there are that say Jesus is all that matters, not the church. Why do they saythat? Because they have a denominational concept of the church. I am the first toagree that there is not a denominational church on earth that matters and everyoneof them ought to cease their existence immediately. But, that is a far cry fromsaying that the church Christ built does not matter. The church built by Jesus matters so much that you cannot be saved outside of it,without becoming a member of it. It is “the church of God which he purchased withhis own blood.” (Acts 20:28 NKJV) If you are outside that church it means you werenever bought with the blood of Christ. It means you are not a part of the bodywhich he is saving. “He is the Savior of the body.” (Eph. 5:23 NKJV) What body?“He is the head of the body, the church.” (Col. 1:18 NKJV) The church is the spiritualbody of Christ of which he is the Savior.Christians are “members of his body, of his flesh and of his bones. (Eph. 5:30 NKJV)“You (Christians – DS) are the body of Christ, and members individually.” (1 Cor.12:27 NKJV) One is either in that body or he is not, you are either inside or outside,and where you are makes all the difference for salvation. Yes, the church matters.It is not Jesus yes and the church no.   The church is what Jesus gave himself for on the cross. “Christ also loved thechurch and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with thewashing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church,not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and withoutblemish.” (Eph. 5:25-27 NKJV)Salvation is in Christ which is the same as to say in his body, the church. “ThereforeI endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvationwhich is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” (2 Tim. 2:10 NKJV) In Christ one is a newcreation (2 Cor. 5:17), a Christian, outside Christ he is not. In Christ are found allspiritual blessings (Eph. 1:3), outside him none are found. “In Christ Jesus you whoonce were far off have been made near by the blood of Christ.” (Eph. 2:13 NKJV) That is in Christ and not out of him. The list could go on and on but the point is thatto be “in Christ” is absolutely essential to salvation but to be in Christ is to be in hisbody, the church. The church is thus essential.One cannot join the church Christ built. God adds the man or woman to it undercertain conditions. “And the Lord added to the church daily those who were beingsaved.” (Acts 2:47 NKJV). Who were added to the church? Those who were beingsaved. Who then is in the church? The saved. Who is outside the church? Theunsaved.Does God just add whoever he pleases to the church unconditionally? If so it wouldnot be a man’s fault if he failed to obtain salvation. There would be nothing hecould do about it as it would be entirely in God’s hands. It does not work that way.At the close of the first gospel sermon ever preached Peter exhorted the crowdsaying, “Save yourselves from this untoward generation.” (Acts 2:40 KJV) Othermore modern translations use the words “be saved” but the thought is the same. Itis up to the individual. The individual has something to do. Salvation is notunconditional and God does not save men adding them to the churchunconditionally.Does this mean that all who are in the church are saved? No, for some go astrayand live in sin and hypocrisy, in indifference and unconcern, without a deep abidingfaith and love, who have fallen away. It does mean, however, that you must be inthe church to be saved for that is where those who will be saved are placed by God.Upon hearing the gospel before one can be added to the church, before God will dothe adding, one must believe what he has heard. Paul defines the gospel by whichwe are saved if we believe in 1 Cor. 15:3-4, “For I delivered to you first of all thatwhich I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, andthat he was buried, and that he arose again the third day according to thescriptures.” (NKJV) This correlates with Peter’s confession of Christ in Matt. 16 whenChrist asked, “But who do you say that I am?” (Matt. 16:15 NKJV) Peter’s reply was,“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matt. 16:16 NKJV) Jesus then says,  “on this rock I will build my church.” (Matt. 16:18 NKJV) It was by the resurrectionthat Jesus was “declared to be the Son of God with power … by the resurrectionfrom the dead.” (Rom. 1:4 NKJV) Thus one must believe that Jesus Christ is the Sonof God who died for our sins and was raised from the dead. Jesus Christ as the Son of God is the foundation upon which the church was built“For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is JesusChrist.” (2 Cor. 3:11 NKJV) He is the “chief cornerstone” (Eph. 2:20 NKJV) of thechurch (cornerstone being the rock upon which the church is built). So a man mustbelieve these things about Christ to be saved. Faith then is essential. We are“living stones” (1 Peter 2:5 NKJV) being built up as “a spiritual house” (church - DS)(1 Peter 2:5 NKJV) upon the foundation that has been laid – on Christ Jesus.But, is this faith enough by itself? No and all know it who will be honest. Why do Isay that? Because on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2 when Peter preached Jesus tothe Jews he did not once command them to have faith in Jesus. Why not? He didnot need to for their faith became evident when they cried out “to Peter and therest of the apostles, ‘Men and brethren, what shall we do?’” (Acts 2:37 NKJV) Makeno mistake about it these Jews believed everything Peter preached that day inpreaching Jesus.Here is my point – why not dismiss the crowd and go home at that point in time? If we are saved by faith alone there is no need for any further instructions as to howto become a child of God, a Christian. No need for further instruction on what isnecessary to be saved. When the men ask “what shall we do” why not tell them togo home now and just continue to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,and Savior of the world? The answer is simple enough to an honest man. Faith was not all that wasnecessary. Peter tells them to, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in thename of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” (Acts 2:38 NKJV) There are manywho will say that yes they believe in order to be saved one must also in addition tohaving faith repent of his sins. However, that is where they want to stop. Theywant to separate repentance from baptism in the passage and gladly ignore the factthere is a coordinating conjunction there, the word “and,” that joins the two wordsmaking one just as essential as another. (They do the same thing with the word“and” in Mark 16:16 and in John 3:5.) It simply will not work. Peter said they mustdo both. If repentance is essential for the remission of sins the same passage thatteaches that (this one) teaches also that baptism is. Both are required.I grant you that denominations do not practice this nor do they believe it and youcan get into a denomination without it (without baptism for the remission of sins).But, remember this article is not about how to get into a denomination. It is how toget into Christ which is the same thing as getting into his body, the church. None of   us should care how you go about getting into a denomination. Who needs one? Itis the church Christ built into which one must enter for salvation. The only man prepared to enter into Christ where salvation is found, to enter hisbody which is the church, is a penitent believer. In the Great Commission theapostles were instructed to baptize only one group of people – those who weremade “disciples.” (Matt. 28:19 NKJV) One can only know whether or not a personwho presents himself for baptism is a believer by asking him. This brings us to another element essential for salvation – the confession of Christ.“With the mouth confession is made to salvation.” (Rom. 10:10) Timothy was saidto “have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (1 Tim.6:12 NKJV) It is the good confession Christ witnessed before Pontius Pilate (1 Tim.6:13) which was that he was “the Christ, the Son of the Blessed” (Mark 14:61-62).See also Acts 8:36-38. Thus the steps into Christ are, in order, faith, repentance, confession of Christ, andfinally baptism into Christ. How does one get into the body of Christ the church?“For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.” (1 Cor. 12:13 NKJV) “Do younot know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus ....” (Rom. 6:3 NKJV)“For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” (Gal. 3:27NKJV) There is no such thing as a Christian in the New Testament that was notbaptized for the remission of sins. Why do I say that?(1) Baptism was for the remission of sins. (2) It was into Christ. (3) Christcommanded it (Mark 16:16, Matt. 28:18-20, John 3:3-5) (4) Peter commanded“every one of you” to do it. No exceptions on the Day of Pentecost. Paul said to theCorinthians “we were all baptized into one body” (1 Cor. 12:13 NKJV), no exceptions.(5) The churches of Judea were “in Christ” (Gal. 1:22, 1 Thess. 2:14). A church canonly be in Christ as the membership is in Christ and that comes by way of baptism. The individual who complies with the conditions that God gave will be added by Godto the church for the same process that makes one a Christian adds him to thechurch when done from the heart. Only God can know whether or not one trulybelieves in Jesus from his heart. Only God can know if a man has repented from theheart of his sins. These things being true a man can by all appearances go throughthe steps essential to salvation but God only knows the sincerity of the heart. Icannot add you to the church even if you by all appearances seem to meet God’squalifications. Since I cannot know or judge your heart I have to assume yoursincerity and honesty and accept you as a child of God, a living stone in God’schurch. I would want the same treatment from you. A faithful Christian will neverdeny such a one the right hand of fellowship.I would remind the reader in closing that to be in Christ is the same as being in hisbody, in his church, and that is where salvation is found, in the body of Christ. “He
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