Jesus promised to build His church (Matthew 16:18). It began on Pentecost after His resurrection in the city of Jerusalem (Acts 2). When the gospel of Christ was preached the people asked, “What shall we do?” (v. 37). The apostle Peter told them to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins (v. 38). “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them… And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (vv. 41, 47).
Whenever and wherever that same gospel is preached, and people respond in that same way God adds them to that same church. Jesus never wanted the church to be divided into different denominations. He prayed that His disciples be one (John 17:20-23). He purchased the church with His own blood (Acts 20:28). It belongs to Him.
The apostle Paul vigorously condemned division in the church (1 Corinthians 1:10-13). He reminded us that Christ is not divided, that Paul was not crucified for us, and that we were not baptized into the name of Paul. It is by Christ’s sacrifice and by His name that we are saved and added to His church (not that of some mere human).
Paul also taught that Jesus is the head of the church, which is His body (Ephesians 1:22-23), that there is one body (4:4), that Jesus is the Savior of the body (5:23), and that He loved the church and gave Himself for her (v. 25).
Salvation is found in Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 2:10) and all the saved are in His church (Acts 2:47). When we are baptized into Christ for salvation (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 22:16; Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:26-27; Colossians 2:12) we are baptized into His church (1 Corinthians 12:13).
The gospel of Christ calls all people out of sin and the world, with its false religions and manmade denominations, and into Christ and His church (Acts 2:39; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14; 1 Peter 2:9-10).
Do you belong to Christ and His church? Does the church mean as much to you as it does to Christ?
This is what Paul taught the church in Ephesus (Ephesians 2:19-22). As Christians, we are “members of the household of God”. The term “household” means family (cf. 1 Timothy 3:4-5, 15; 5:8). These verses tell us two things: 1) Family matters, and 2) We are a family. Jesus was the first to teach this when He spoke of the greater family of God (Matthew 12:46-50). It is a greater family in at least three ways:
We are a family in the Lord.
It is a spiritual family (Galatians 3:26-29). God is our Father and we are His children. That makes us brothers and sisters in Christ. We are united by the same faith and the same baptism by which we were united to Christ. We have the same Savior and the same Lord, Jesus. We are all one in Christ (cf. Ephesians 4:1-6). What matters is “if you are Christ’s”.
The king of Bezek was defeated by Judah and when they caught him they cut off his thumbs and big toes. He said, “Seventy kings with their thumbs and big toes cut off used to gather scraps under my table; as I have done, so God has repaid me” (Judges 1:7). There are at least two lessons for us in this story.
One, even the seemingly most insignificant parts of the body are important. This is true in regards to the physical body. To lose our thumbs would make it quite difficult to handle things and to lose our big toes would be crippling. But, this is also true in regards to the spiritual body of Christ, His church.
Robert Dodson is the Preaching Minister for the Northwest Church of Christ.
6059 Azle Avenue
Fort Worth, TX 76135