The Encourager

The Encourager

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Added to the Church; by Jeff Curtis

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Added to the Church

By Jeff Curtis

 

     When Peter made his confession about Jesus in Matthew 16:16, Jesus promised him “the keys of the kingdom” (Matt. 16:19). That is, Jesus promised that Peter would be the first to open the door of the kingdom / church and allow people entrance. That is exactly what happened on the Day of Pentecost. Peter gave the terms of entrance into the church, and three thousand took advantage of the offer of a gracious God. When they were baptized, they were saved; when they were saved, God added them to the church.

     Many vital truths can be drawn from verses 41 and 47. First, we have a simple, but profound, definition of the church. The church is the body of the saved – those who have been saved by the blood of Christ. People often speak of church membership and salvation as two different things. Those who do so generally have in mind denominations. One can be saved and not be a part of any denomination, but cannot be saved and not be a part of the Lord’s church. According to the two verses we are talking about, church membership and salvation are one and the same.

     Next, these verses teach that we don’t “join” the church; instead, the Lord “adds” us to the church. Is this merely a question of semantics? No, a vital biblical principle is at stake. Whenever an individual “joins” and organization, he does it. By fulfilling certain requirements, he earns the right to be a part of that group. However, and individual cannot earn the right to be part of the Lord’s church. The church is the body of the saved. Since the individual cannot save himself, he cannot make himself a member of that body. The One who saves us through His grace makes us a part of the body. A distinction must be made here between the universal church and local congregations. After the Lord adds us to the church universal, we then need to “join ourselves to” a faithful congregation of God’s people (Acts 9:26). God adds, we welcome.

     Other truths could be deduced from verses 41 and 47, but it should be emphasized that when we are scripturally baptized, we become part of a spiritual fellowship called “the church.” God did not intend that we should be spiritual loners. Sooner or later, all of us need others to help and strengthen us. In establishing the church, God provided a built-in support group, a spiritual network.

     Regarding salvation, all of us must deal with the past, the present, and the future. We have the sins of the past with their oppressive guilt; we wonder whether or not we will have the strength for the future, we have present spiritual challenges that threaten to overwhelm us. God has foreseen our every need. When we are baptized as penitent believers, God helps to take care of the past by forgiving every sin (Acts 2:38), God helps to take care future by giving us the Holy Spirit to strengthen us and help us (Acts 2:38); and He helps to take care of the present by making us part of a loving family called the church (Acts 2:41, 47). These are not the only ways God has foreseen and provided for our spiritual needs, but these are three important ways God provides for us, all found in Acts chapter 2.

 

Too Busy?

When you want a favor done,

And you want it right away,

Go to the man who constantly

Works twenty hours a day.

He’ll find a moment sure, somewhere,

That has no other use,

And serve you while the idle man

Is framing an excuse.

Added to the Church

By Jeff Curtis

 

     When Peter made his confession about Jesus in Matthew 16:16, Jesus promised him “the keys of the kingdom” (Matt. 16:19). That is, Jesus promised that Peter would be the first to open the door of the kingdom / church and allow people entrance. That is exactly what happened on the Day of Pentecost. Peter gave the terms of entrance into the church, and three thousand took advantage of the offer of a gracious God. When they were baptized, they were saved; when they were saved, God added them to the church.

     Many vital truths can be drawn from verses 41 and 47. First, we have a simple, but profound, definition of the church. The church is the body of the saved – those who have been saved by the blood of Christ. People often speak of church membership and salvation as two different things. Those who do so generally have in mind denominations. One can be saved and not be a part of any denomination, but cannot be saved and not be a part of the Lord’s church. According to the two verses we are talking about, church membership and salvation are one and the same.

     Next, these verses teach that we don’t “join” the church; instead, the Lord “adds” us to the church. Is this merely a question of semantics? No, a vital biblical principle is at stake. Whenever an individual “joins” and organization, he does it. By fulfilling certain requirements, he earns the right to be a part of that group. However, and individual cannot earn the right to be part of the Lord’s church. The church is the body of the saved. Since the individual cannot save himself, he cannot make himself a member of that body. The One who saves us through His grace makes us a part of the body. A distinction must be made here between the universal church and local congregations. After the Lord adds us to the church universal, we then need to “join ourselves to” a faithful congregation of God’s people (Acts 9:26). God adds, we welcome.

     Other truths could be deduced from verses 41 and 47, but it should be emphasized that when we are scripturally baptized, we become part of a spiritual fellowship called “the church.” God did not intend that we should be spiritual loners. Sooner or later, all of us need others to help and strengthen us. In establishing the church, God provided a built-in support group, a spiritual network.

     Regarding salvation, all of us must deal with the past, the present, and the future. We have the sins of the past with their oppressive guilt; we wonder whether or not we will have the strength for the future, we have present spiritual challenges that threaten to overwhelm us. God has foreseen our every need. When we are baptized as penitent believers, God helps to take care of the past by forgiving every sin (Acts 2:38), God helps to take care future by giving us the Holy Spirit to strengthen us and help us (Acts 2:38); and He helps to take care of the present by making us part of a loving family called the church (Acts 2:41, 47). These are not the only ways God has foreseen and provided for our spiritual needs, but these are three important ways God provides for us, all found in Acts chapter 2.

 

Too Busy?

When you want a favor done,

And you want it right away,

Go to the man who constantly

Works twenty hours a day.

He’ll find a moment sure, somewhere,

That has no other use,

And serve you while the idle man

Is framing an excuse.

The Establishment of the Kingdom

Saturday, April 23, 2022

The Establishment of the Kingdom

by Jeff Curtis

 

   The kingdom / the church existed in purpose. Throughout eternity, it existed in the plans and purposes of God; “10 to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, 11 according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ephesians 3:10-11).

 

   It existed in promise. Throughout the Old Testament, the kingdom / church existed in prophecy and promise. Isaiah said that in the last days the Lord’s house would be established and the Word would go forth from Jerusalem; “Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.”
(Isaiah 2:2-3). Paul identifies the Lord’s house as the church; “but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” (1Timothy 3:15). Daniel prophesied that God’s kingdom would be established in the days of the Roman empire; And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.” (Daniel 2:44).

 

It existed in preparation. Christ began His personal ministry during the days of the Roman Empire. During His personal ministry, the kingdom / church existed in preparation. Both Jesus and John the Baptist preached that the kingdom was “at hand” or almost there (Matthew 4:17; 3:1-2). Jesus stressed that His kingdom was a spiritual institution (John 18:36) and used the terms “kingdom” and “church” interchangeably; 18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:18-19).

 

Jesus said that His kingdom would come “with power”; He said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power.”  (Mark 9:1). After His resurrection, He told the disciples that the power would come when the Holy Spirit came and that they would be His witnesses beginning at Jerusalem; Suddenly, when they had looked around, they saw no one anymore, but only Jesus with themselves.” (v.8). They were to wait in Jerusalem until that power came; at that time repentance for the remission of sins would be preached in His name “beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:45-49).

 

It existed, and continues to exist, in power. The Holy Spirit came on the first Day of Pentecost after the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:1-4). The power came; and so, the kingdom / church was established.

 

As Isaiah and Jesus foretold, the preaching of the gospel began at Jerusalem (Acts 2:29-38). People who believed, repented, and were baptized were added to the kingdom / church (Acts 2:41, 47; KJV). From that point, the kingdom / church was spoken of as being in existence (Acts 5:11; 8:1-3; Colossians 1:13; Hebrews 12:28; Revelation 1:6).

 

Christ is now reigning in heaven over His kingdom, and He will continue to reign until He returns at the end of time (1Corinthians 15:24-27) to take His faithful followers with Him to heaven (John 14:1-3).

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