Added To The Church


So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:46-47)

Added To The Church

The New Testament church had its beginning on the Day of Pentecost in fulfillment of the Old Testament prophets and the word of Christ before returning to the Father. It was an incredible time as the gospel of a crucified Savior was first preached and recipients of the saving blood of Christ became part of the eternal kingdom of God. Three thousand devout Jews accepted the invitation of the apostles to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins and to receive the blessings of the Holy Spirit in spiritual fellowship with the Divine. Luke records the events of those first days as the new converts to God’s new covenant began to explore the teachings of the apostles proclaiming a risen Christ and establishment of the Way known as the church of God’s elect. Hearing the message of how they had killed the Christ, those who were pricked in their hearts cried out to the apostles to know what to do to be saved. Peter tells them the word of the Lord and they responded with great gladness and joy. While men obeyed the word of the Lord on earth there was something very important occurring in the presence of God. The Lord was adding to the church all those who were being saved. This is a special connect when considered in the whole message. There was a need for men to find salvation in Jesus Christ and the apostles preached the message of grace to those gathered in Jerusalem. Not everyone responded to the sermon of Peter and many walked away without being moved by the message. Three thousand souls were impacted by what they heard and wanted to know how they could be forgiven. The first gospel sermon proved Jesus of Nazareth to be the Christ and Peter explained that to receive the remission of sins, those who wanted to be saved had to repent and change their lives in sorrow for killing the Son of God. This would then be followed by immersion in water for the remission of sins. There is no doubt how the Holy Spirit crafted the words of salvation showing without reservation that baptism is for the remission of sins and without immersion there can be no forgiveness of sins. Why would Peter give them a false answer when their eternal souls depended on it? If there was another way to be saved, how could the apostles require three thousand people to be immersed with no purpose in their baptism? Peter told them that salvation would be found in the waters of baptism and this was a promise to every generation.

If the scene of Pentecost was recreated today (and it is often repeated) and people asked what to do to be saved, what kind of answers would they receive? In most cases (nearly all) the answers would not be what Peter said two thousand years ago to three thousand desperate souls. They would be told to accept Christ as their personal Savior but that is not what Peter said. Multitudes are told that faith alone saves and yet that is not the answer Peter gave. As a matter of fact, throughout the book of Acts when the question is asked of what a man must do to be saved, there is never a case of conversion where a man is told to be saved by faith alone. Luke was a careful historian who did not leave out any facts or details as he was guided by the Holy Spirit. His book is a careful testimony of what the early disciples taught and his record of what happened on the Day of Pentecost cannot be challenged. Yet in the minds of most religious people who accept Jesus as the Son of God there is a strong denial of exactly what came out of Peter’s mouth: repent and be baptized for the remission of sins. A person can argue all day long that baptism does not save but at the end of the day what Peter said remains. Not only do the words of Peter stand as true now as they were then, but the New Testament also affirms time and time again the necessity of baptism. The early disciples never denied salvation by repentance, grace, mercy, love, faith, hope, blood and a host of matters given by God to save sinful man from His wrath. What is tragic is how the one thing that changes a person’s relationship with God is denied by almost the entire Christian world. Baptism has never stood alone as Peter did not tell the people on Pentecost to be baptized and that was all they needed to do. He told them to repent and to be baptized because they believed in the word of God because the grace of God has been shown through the writings of the prophets and the love of God expressed in the death of Jesus. Salvation includes the hope of God because Jesus has been raised from the dead. Three thousand people were saved at Pentecost because of the complete plan of God including all the things above culminating in an act of obedient faith in the waters of baptism. Without baptism, there would be no cleansing of sin.

Luke continues the story of those first days by showing how the first Christians enjoyed learning about this new covenant. One important point that he makes is what happens when a person repents and is immersed for the remission of their sins. Obedience to the gospel is where a person is added by God to the holy nation of the elect, the bride of Christ, His family of saved, the redeemed called saints and the church of Jesus Christ. The Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved suggesting the saved are in the church. Not only has baptism been delegated to an outward sign of an inward grace (without necessity), the church is viewed as a nonessential part of a Christian walk. If the church is not important then why is God adding the saved to something that has no meaning and that Jesus died for is worthless? According to the Holy Spirit, the saved are in the church and the only way the saved can be added to the church is when they repent and are baptized for the remission of their sins. If a person refuses to believe baptism saves them then they can never have their sins washed away and God will never add them to the church where the saved reside. Where are the saved? In the church. How is one added to the church? Repentance and immersion. Who does the adding? God does. Why does God add a person to the church? They through faith from the grace of God have obeyed the will of the Lord. To be in Christ is to be in the church. Salvation is in the church, not out of the church. If God does not add you, you are not saved. If you are outside the church, you are lost. If you refuse to do what Peter told the three thousand at Pentecost you will not be added by God to the church where the saved are.


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