Introducing the Church of Christ Part 4
Jesus said “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” Mark 16:15 That amounts to an invitation to everyone to accept the gospel and be ‘added to the church’. Acts 2:47 But Jesus also said, “he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Mark 16:16 The church is open to ALL, upon conditions imposed by ITS FOUNDER AND HEAD!! But the volition, acceptance of the terms imposed, obedience to the demands of the Captain of Salvation is involved. He determines whether he will be saved or condemned by his or her willingness to do what is demanded by the Head of the Body!! The church DOES NOT make that determination. The church has earnestly shown its desire for His salvation and has shown it by obeying from the heart whatever He commanded. The only way to be in this exclusive body is to OBEY what the Master demands!! It cannot be preached otherwise!! Exclusion, then, is something the disbeliever chooses as the alternative to faith IF they decide to reject Christ’ demands for admittance, even IF the disbeliever decides to make up his or her OWN plan!!
The uniqueness of the church is not the only ground of exclusiveness of the church, for man’s reaction to God’s will enters the picture. His saved or unsaved condition opens consideration of another ground of exclusiveness, which is that the Lord does not add the unsaved to His church, nor does He add the saved to anything that is NOT His church!! It should not be surprising that to be apart of ANY organization those who seek to become apart of it MUST meets the terms of admittance! To ignore these terms would be that same as ignoring the organization. Open membership cannot secure anything but total confusion and anarchy. Membership on terms acceptable to the would-be-entrant and not the organization and especially its Head, would destroy any ability to sustain itself the organization would or could have!!
All the initial commands of the gospel simultaneously exclude and include. The command to believe excludes unbelievers, while it includes those who accept the testimony of the Word. The command to repent excludes those who cannot bring themselves to turn from sin, but places divine approval on all who will. The command to be baptized for the remission of sins excludes those who think belief ONLY suffices or who are not scripturally baptized, while it saves those who in good conscience toward God manifest in this act of surrender, themselves, their will, AND their life. Every step of obedience excludes those who choose to be excluded!! But, when the believer repents and is baptized because he has faith in the Captain of his salvation, he is added to the body of obedient believers who, like himself, are saved!! Acts 2:47 He is included in and among the “called-out”. 2 Corinthians 6:17 The Lord Jesus Christ himself acts on behalf of the believer who has just ‘obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine’; it is the Lord who adds to His church, none other. If you are not a member of the Lord’s Church, maybe this may cause you to re-consider your obedience to what gospel, look again at what you did or did not do, and repent and do those things He has demanded or forget about being apart of the redeemed!!
It is obvious from the fact that the Lord’s action takes place AFTER baptism for the remission of sins that NO unsaved person is added to the Church of Christ. One is not added to the saved when he has believed or when he has both believed and repented. He has, in this state, yet to receive the forgiveness of sin. Rotten apples rot apples.