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Sunday, March 11, 2018 am                                                       NT Church Index

NT CHURCH 2017-18 (50)
Part of His Church (1)
Becoming Part of His Church

 

We have now come to the final area of our study of the New Testament church.   We have identified what the church is and is not, discussed the universal and local church, noted her work, organization and worship.  We have also addressed how we establish authority for what we do.  Recently we have been addressing her unity and purity.  Today we begin a final area of study – being a part of the church. 

This will consist of 3 lessons – 1) How to become a part of the Lord’s church, 2) What it means to be part of His church & 3) What is my responsibility as a part of the church?

We will conclude our study of the church by noticing a few congregations in the New Testament and some lessons we can learn from them. 

 I.                     The church is the body of Christ –

a.       Ephesians 1:22-23, etc.

b.       Ephesians 5:23 tells us that Jesus is the “Savior of the body.”

c.        Acts 2:47 – the Lord added to the church (to their number – NASB) daily those who were being saved.

d.       Hebrews 12:22-24 where the writer is encouraging these brethren to stay the course reminds them of who they are and what awaits.  He said, But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.

e.       As such it is the body of the saved.   And as such, if we are concerned about the church of Christ, we need to ask what we need to do to be saved.

 II.                   God’s plan of Salvation:  How are we added to that body?

a.       To answer that question, we must also ask, how is one saved.  Let’s go through the book of Acts and notice how those who became the church acted and were saved.

b.       It begins with Hearing the word –A study of the book of Acts finds the gospel being continually preached, people hearing the gospel and responding. 
Acts 2:37 – as Peter concluded his sermon we read, “Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart…”
Acts 15:7, as Paul is speaking in Jerusalem to a group of the church he notes that by his mouth God willed that the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe.
Acts 16:13, while in Philippi, Paul and Silas meet with some women by the riverside and spoke with them.  We read in vs. 14, “Now a certain woman Lydia heard us… her heart was opened by the Lord to “heed the things spoken by Paul…” 
Acts 18:8 – many of the Corinthians heard, believed and were baptized.
Acts 19:2-5, Paul in Ephesus finds a group of 12 men who had been baptized in the name of John.  Paul corrects their error and we read, “When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord.”
In other examples we have words of communication as well – Acts 8:5-6, Philip “Preached Christ to them.  The multitude heeded the things he spoke.
Acts 9:6, Saul was told by the Lord what he needed to do.   Further, while waiting in Damascus, he heard from Ananias – (9:17-18).  Paul responds.
Acts 11:14, Peter was sent to Cornelius to “tell you words by which you and all your household will be saved.
Romans 10:17 tells us that faith comes by hearing the word of God. 
1 Corinthians 1:21, it pleased God through “the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.

c.        Believing (faith) – Again, Romans 10:17. 
One thing consistently taught in scripture is that belief is necessary to be saved.  This eliminates those incapable of believing or understanding.  AND it eliminates those who REFUSE to believe or do not have faith.
Acts 4:4 – many heard and believed.  The numbers in Jerusalem kept increasing (about 5000 men).  Acts 5:14 – believers were increasing.
Acts 15:9, speaking of Cornelius, their hearts were purified by faith.
Acts 8:12 – in Samaria, Philip preached, and they believed along with Simon.  This led to obeying the gospel.
Acts 8:37 – the Eunuch was told by Philip, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.”  He confessed that belief (NKJV, KJV).
Acts 10:43, Peter declared that though His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.
Acts 15:7, Paul describes how through him Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe.  NOTE: Here is a passage where believe could mean all that is involved in that belief.
Acts 16:31, the jailer was told, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved…”
Vs. 34 – his belief was demonstrated by his actions including baptism.
Acts 18:8 – Crispus, believed with his household.  Many of the Corinthians were baptized.
Acts 20:21 – Paul speaks of how he testified to the Jews and Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
We need faith to be saved.  Ephesians 2:8-9, John 3:16.

d.       Repenting – a word meaning to change one’s mind.
In the infancy of the church, repentance was emphasized
Acts 2:38 – on the day of Pentecost.
Acts 3:19 – still in Jerusalem, Peter proclaimed, repent and be converted (changed)
Acts 17:30 – to the Athenians, God commands all men everywhere to repent.
Acts 26:20, Paul, before Festus and Agrippa explains his work beginning in Damascus, the Jerusalem, and Judea, and then to the Gentiles, “that they should repent, turn to God, and do work befitting repentance.
 Acts 11:18 speaks of the Gentiles being granted “repentance to life.”  Also Acts 20:21 again – note: In each of these, repentance is a step and change of mind that leads toward salvation and life.
Jesus Himself taught, “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”  (Luke 13:3 & 5)
The point is that to become a Christian is a call to a changed life.   You put off that old man and put on the new man. 

e.       Confessing – Of all the steps leading to one’s salvation, this is the least mentioned in the book of Acts, and the New Testament. 
The only specific example of it is in Acts 8:37-38 as the Eunuch confesses his belief in Jesus as the Son of God. (And there is even dispute about the authenticity of this verse). 
But that they confessed Jesus is clearly implied by their belief and willingness to obey the Gospel, including being baptized (see next point).
That confession is needed is demonstrated in Romans 10:9-10.
Jesus taught, Matthew 10:32-33, Whoever confesses Me before men  NOTE: This is more than a one-time statement, but a way of life.  Demonstrated by our living for Him.
Mathew 16:15-16, when asked who they thought Jesus was, Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.
1 Timothy 6:12-13 – Paul urges Timothy to fight the good fight of faith and noted that he had “confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.  Even Jesus Christ “witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate” (cf. John 18:32-38 where Jesus declared His spiritual kingdom).

The following is to be presented in part 2 (3/18/18)

f.         Baptized
Mark 16:15-16, Matthew 28:18-20 – as Jesus gave the great commission, He instructed His apostles to go and baptize to be saved. 
1 Corinthians 12:13 – notes, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body…”  Paul, who early in this letter addressed their being baptized (1 Corinthians 1:14-15), was speaking of the church they were part of.  When we are properly immersed (for the right reason), we are saved and we are added to His body, His church.
This was the typical pattern in Acts.  In multiple examples where we are given details, baptism is mentioned.  Consider the following:
Acts 2:37-38 – on the day of Pentecost, Repent and be baptized…
Acts 8:12-13 – Samaritans, including Simon the sorcerer were baptized
Acts 8:38-39 – the Eunuch was baptized by Philip on his way back to Ethiopia.
Acts 9:18 -  the first thing Paul after receiving his sight at the command of Ananias, is that he is baptized.   Acts 22:16, in more detail Paul explains what baptism did for him.  It washed away his sins.  In this act, he was “calling on the name of the Lord.”
Acts 10:47-48 – Cornelius, the first full Gentile convert, was commanded to be baptized in the name of the Lord.
Acts 16:14-15 – Lydia and her household were baptized after being taught by Paul and Silas.
Acts 16:31-34 – have heard “the word of Lord” with which he would be saved, the jailer washes the stripes of Paul (could this be an act of repentance), and is baptized with his family. 
Acts 18:8 – Paul in Corinth taught the gospel, and many, including Crispus (see 1 Cor. 1:14-15), hearing, believed and were baptized. 
Acts 19:5 – in Ephesus, 12 men heard that they had been baptized for the wrong reason, were then baptized “in the name of the Lord Jesus.
These examples show definitively how early prospects heard the word of God and were baptized.
It is AFTER baptism  that we see results such as:
Acts 2:38 – for the remission of sins
Acts 8:39 – he went on his way rejoicing
Acts 9:18-19 – Paul spent time with the disciples
Acts 16:34 – rejoicing, having believed with all his household.

g.       Romans 10:8-17 – a good passage to describe the process.  Sometimes used to say all one needs to do is believe and confess.  But notice the process that takes place:

                                                   i.      They hear the word – vs. 8, it is near them and was preached to them)

                                                 ii.      They believe with the heart unto (in the direction of – same word as “for” in Acts 2:38) righteousness. 

                                                iii.      They confess with the mouth “unto (same word) salvation”.

                                                iv.      Vs. 13 – “for whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”  Consider this expression “call on the name of the Lord” – when and how does this occur? 

1.       It was mentioned in Acts 2:21 on Pentecost in Peter’s sermon.  How did those who were cut to the heart respond?  Remember the expression is in the MIDST of Peter’s sermon and quoting the OT (Joel 2:28-32).    Peter must explain what is involved.  Acts 2:38 is what Peter told them to do to be saved.  That is HOW they called on the name of the Lord – repent and be baptized.

2.       Acts 22:16, Paul in recounting his conversion uses the same expression.  It was washing away his sins, “calling on the name of the Lord.”

3.       Continue to notice in our text – 14-17 – Calling comes AFTER believing, which comes AFTER hearing, which comes AFTER having the message preached. 

4.       Thus, the act of “calling on the name of the Lord” is not merely believing.  Not is it “the sinner’s prayer” which we do not find in scripture.  It is fulfilling God’s commands which lead to our salvation.  1 Peter 3:21 – it is “the answer of a Good conscience toward God, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

h.       This is only the beginning.  As Christians, and part of the body of Christ, we are called upon to remain faithful to Him.  To live our lives for Him.  In baptism we have put to death the old man of sin and have been raised “to walk in newness of life.”  Romans 6:3-4.  It’s a changed life.  That is what much of the NT is about – how we live as Christians.  AND one thing you will find in the epistles, is that a congregation of the Lord’s people is PART of that life.  More on that in our next lesson.

     Conclusion: An identifying characteristic of the TRUE church (one body – Ephesians 4:4) is their “terms of admission”, or how they teach that one is saved.  If a church (religious body) is teaching a false way of salvation, they are teaching a false way to Christ (Acts 4:12), or another gospel (Galatians 1:6-9).  How can they be the true church?  Think about it!