Restoring The Terms of Membership Of The Church

by Allan E. Flaxman

The great tragedy of this 20th century is that men have so ignored God's Will that "Restoration" of any aspect of Christianity is called for! "So called" Christianity today bears but little resemblance to Christianity of the First Century, which alone bears the stamp of apostolic approval! Over the intervening years, men have buried the "original: so completely and successfully beneath man-made laws, creeds and dogma, that to many thousands living today the original God-approved Gospel seems a strange sight indeed and is often thought to be some "new-fangled religious heresy!"

But facts are hard things to ignore when once brought into open sunlight. Not only have men departed from God's reading regarding church government, worship, moral standards etc., but they have had the audacity to change and alter the very terms and conditions necessary to become a member of the Lord's church! And herein lies terrible danger! Why? Simply because, although the church itself does not actually save anyone, SALVATION CAN BE FOUND ONLY WITHIN THE CHURCH.

How do we know? First Christ shed His saving blood for His church (Acts 20:28). Again, salvation is to be found only "IN CHRIST" and it is baptism that puts one "into Christ" (Galatians 3:27; 1 Corinthians 15: 22; 11 Corinthians 5:17; 1 Thessalonians 4:17). As the Bible teaches plainly that the church is the body of Christ (Ephesians 1:22,23), obviously those not in Christ's church are just not saved souls! When we add to this the fact there is only ONE BODY (that is, ONE CHURCH, Ephesians 4:4), we can see how important that it is that the original terms and conditions for entry into HIS church should be restored, for your very salvation depends on it!

Actually the original apostolic approved terms and conditions of entry into the Lord's church are simplicity itself. First one must believe sincerely that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, that His shed blood is the saving power. This is what is meant by "He that BELIEVETH and is baptized shall be saved" (Mark 16:16) and "This is my blood of the New Testament which is shed for many for the REMISSION of sins" (Matthew 26:27,28).

Next, having so believed, repentance (a change of mind which leads to a change of action) towards God is necessary. "Except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3,5; also Acts 17:30).

Following the repentance in the Biblical and most natural sequence, is that men confess their belief in Christ as God's Son. (See Matthew 10:32; Romans 10:10). The final step to admission to Christ's church is without doubt the simplest of all. It is that the believing, repentant, confessing sinner BE BAPTIZED FOR THE REMISSION OF SINS! God-approved baptism is a burial in water at which point we contact the saving blood of Christ (Romans 6:4; Colossians 2:12).

No wonder then the Bible says baptism is for the "remission of sins" (Acts 2:38), that it washes away sins (Acts 22:16), and that it saves us (1 Peter 3:21), for it is at this point that men rise from the watery grave of baptism to BEGIN their NEW life (Romans 6:4) and it is at this same point that men are "added" by God Himself to Christ's church (Acts 2:47).