The word ‘church’ is used in several senses in the New Testament but we will focus on just two: The word ‘church’ is used in a universal sense. The universal church is made up of all those who are saved, and it is the Lord Himself who adds people to His church: “…And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:47) The word ‘church’ is also used in a local sense. A local church consists of believers who meet for worship at a particular place. Paul and Barnabas were revisiting several cities in which they had formerly preached the gospel (Acts 14:21-22). Luke records… “And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed” (Acts 14:23).
They ordained or appointed elders in every church. These were all local churches. From the latter part of the verse, we see that these local churches were made up of those who believed in the Lord. So, before you consider selecting a local church at which to place your membership, it is essential to ensure that you have been added to the Lord’s church. But how can a person know if he has been added to the Lord’s church? Look with me once again at this verse… “…And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:47) Who was the Lord adding to the church? “…such as should be saved.” Since it is only the saved that are added to the church, it is essential that we learn what one must do to be saved! So, what must you do to be saved? In the same chapter (Acts 2), this same question was asked by those who had just been convicted of nailing the Son of God to a tree.
“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?”3 (Acts 2:36-37 You will notice that, Peter did not tell these Jews to “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved” (See Acts 16:31). This was because they already believed, which is evident because they were “pricked in their heart” when they heard the gospel message that Peter had presented (Acts 2:14-37).
Though these Jews believed, they were yet lacking. Peter tells them what they need to do: “Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be immersed every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38) Though they believed, they needed to “repent,” or turn from their sins. To repent means to ‘change the mind,’ i.e., to change one’s mind about the course of life one has been leading to walk in another. Peter, then, called upon them to turn from their lives of sin and walk in the highway of righteousness. Peter also tells them to “be baptized for the remission of sins.” The word “baptized” comes from the Greek word baptizo and denotes ‘an immersion in water’ (See Vines). They were told to be baptized or immersed in water for a specific purpose: “for the remission of sin.”
Peter’s answer to their question is not surprising, for Jesus had commissioned His disciples saying… “Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be damned” (Mark 16:15-16).
By Br. Samson Baby, Philadelphia-USA