Vol. 4, No. 4
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There can be no doubt in the mind of the serious student of God's Word that the church of our Lord is a unity, that it is not made up of thousands of little churches all of which believe and practice different, conflicting doctrines. Christ did not pray that there should be such division in his body, the church, but just the opposite. He prayed for oneness among those who would believe on him through the words of the apostles (John 17:20-23). The apostle Paul, as directed by the Holy Spirit, defines in detail the oneness for which Jesus prayed: "Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined in the same mind and in the same judgment" (1 Corinthians 1:10). This clearly defined directive stands in stark contrast to the realities of the denominational world today! The only basis for arriving at the unity for which Christ prayed is complete, unrelenting dependence upon his Truth, the only means by which man can be sanctified (John 17:17). In becoming a member of the one church for which he died, there must be complete agreement with the Truth that he proclaimed and, as well, there must be total unity with the inspired apostles who acted upon and revealed that Truth to us. Anything else, any other approach to becoming a member of his church creates ungodly division between men of today, between men of today and men of that day, and between Christ and man. To create such division is sinful and will result, if not repented of, in souls being lost eternally!
The obvious questions then are: "What does Christ say" and "What do the apostles teach" I must do in order to become a member of his one undivided church? Or, what must I do to avoid being a participant in the sinful religious division seen in the world today? The obvious answer to these obvious questions is, "I must do what the Bible says in order to become a member of his church, otherwise I will become a member of that which is sinfully divided!"
Well then, "What does the Bible say?" First, I must "hear" what the Savior says (John 6:44-45; Romans 10:17); Secondly, I must have "faith" in him, believing what he says (John 8:24; Hebrews 11:6); Third, I must "repent" of my sins (Luke 13:3; Acts 17:30); Fourth, I must "confess" what I believe (Romans 10:9-10; Matthew 10:32-33): Finally, I must be "baptized" into Christ (Galatians 3:27) for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). When I, through the agency (the Word) of the Spirit, am thus baptized, that very act places me into the body of Christ; which is the church of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 1:22-23).
We see those, with whom we must be as one, becoming members of the church in this way on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:37-47). In order to be united with them (and with the apostles and Christ) we must do as they did! In verse thirty-seven, those who believed in Christ asked a Bible question, "What must we do?" They were then given a Bible answer in verse thirty-eight, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins." Three thousand people obeyed that commandment (Acts 2:41) and upon that obedient act, they were added by the Lord to his church (Acts 2:47). In order then to become a member of his church today, in order to be united with him, the apostles and the faithful who responded on the day of Pentecost, we must teach exactly what they did and we must do exactly what they did. Any other answer to this Bible question, any other response, is sinful and divisive, being in direct opposition to the teaching of Christ and his apostles as to "how" one must become a member of the church! To respond to this Bible question with a non-biblical answer by saying, "Receive Christ as your personal Savior" or "Just say the sinner's prayer" is not to be united with Christ, his apostles or his church. Such non-biblical answers create the sinful division that exists in the religious world today! Why not just honestly give the Bible answer as did Peter on Pentecost? The final question: "Have you responded to Christ or to men?"