INTRO: The question which is the title for this mornings sermons study is one which I have been asked many, many times. It is an honest question asked by people who have usually been genuinely interested in a straightforward answer. Of the many questions I have been asked, I think I most enjoy having someone ask me this one ... and the open door of opportunity it offers me. What I want to do this morning is to answer this question ... assuming that there may be someone here who has mentally posed that very question. Or perhaps I want to answer this question to assist some of us who may be attempting to teach others and who may be confronted with this exact question.
I IT IS IMPORTANT THAT PEOPLE BE IN THE CHURCH!
A. The church is...
1. the body of Christ - Col 1:18
2. the bride of Christ - Rev 21:2
3. the family of God - Eph 2:19
4. the temple of God - 1 Cor 3:16,17
5. the blood bought church - Acts 20:28
B. Clearly, apart from the church one can have no relationship with God
1. listen: Eph 3:21 - God is glorified in the church
2. or: Acts 2:47 - the saved are in the church
3. so, the question of membership in the church is certainly critical
4. and its a question deserving of our consideration, our answering
C. Another point ... we must understand the church is not a denomination
1. the expression your church suggests a denominational concept
2. our only interest must be in the church of Mt 16:18 - His church
3. we must search the N.T. for the description, pattern of His church
4. I have no interest in being a member of just another denomination - and I have a strong suspicion that you have not such interest
II SO, WHAT ABOUT THE JOINING?
A. Lets take another look at Acts 2:47
1. perhaps to some this will/would sound a little picky
2. but according to this passage, the Lord adds the saved to the church
3. so, a larger question is, What must one do to be saved?
4. I cannot be a member of the Lords church until I resolve that matter - because it is then that I become a member of the body by the Lords action
B. So, we need to examine what has gone before in Acts 2
1. the word of God is proclaimed - vv. 22-24 (recall Rom 10:17)
2. the Lordship of Jesus is declared - v. 36
3. hearers become believers - v. 37 (and they ask a crucial question)
4. they receive a clear answer to their question - v. 38
a. repent (recall Lk 24:47)
b. be baptized (recall Mk 16:15,16)
c. for remission of sins, for gift of the Holy Spirit
5. many of those people were baptized - v. 41a (recall 1 Pet 3:21)
6. those baptized people were added unto them - v. 41b (the implication of this text is that there were some who were not baptized)
7. the summation? Acts 2:47
C. Two more passages which help answer our question?
1. 1 Cor 12:13 - baptism is into the body (the church)
2. Gal 3:26,27 - baptism is into Christ
3. it is clear that in baptism one passes from lost to saved
4. and in baptism one is placed, by the Lord, into the body, the church
D. One then sustains a relationship to the Lord in a local congregation
1. in scripture we read of churches in numerous cities
2. for example, the church in Antioch (Acts 11:26) - disciples assembled; disciples were called Christians; disciples served and gave (Acts 11:29,30)
3. or, the church in Troas (Acts 20:6,7) - the disciples assemble to eat the Lords supper; to hear the word proclaimed
4. when you are baptized, then, you are added to the church - and you sustain your relationship to the body by being a part of a local congregation
CLOSE: One of the significant things about all of this is that our answer comes directly from scripture. In other words, you become a member of the Lords church (His body) in exactly the same way that people did 2000 years ago. And because you have followed the instruction and example of scripture, you can know your are in the church of Jesus Christ!
Cecil A. Hutson
20 June 2004
You Must Hear the Gospel
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
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
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
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)
You Must Be Baptized
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!
You Must Be Faithful Unto Death
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)