When a person is baptized for the forgiveness of his sins, he is washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus (1 Cor. 6:11). Every sin that a person has ever committed is washed away by the blood of Jesus (Rev. 1:5). He also has become a child of God because of his faith and obedience to the gospel (2 Thess. 1:8).
A Christian is a "new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new" (2 Cor. 5:17). Remember, the Christian died to sin (old things have passed away); the sinful man has been put to death and has been born again (John 3:1-7).
The question most frequently asked at this point is, "But what happens if I sin now? Must I be baptized again?" The answer is that a person must repent of any sin which he commits and confess it to God Who is "faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). We do have the important responsibility to make sure that we are trying our best to obey God in all things.
In other words, once we come in contact with the blood of Jesus (at baptism), it continues to cleanse as we make every effort to please God--to walk according to His truths in loving obedience.
An additional blessing is that the Lord adds the saved person to the church (Acts 2:47). What is the church? It is NOT a man-made organization. The Bible presents it as the body of Christ. Jesus died to obtain this body of redeemed people; He "purchased it with His own blood" (Acts 20:28). It is so precious to Him that He nourishes it and cherishes it (Eph. 5:29).
The book of Ephesians discusses the church and its relationship to Jesus. Paul writes that God "put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body. . . " (Eph. 1: 22-23). Paul also writes that Jesus is "the head of the church" and "the Savior of the body" (Eph. 5:23). Paul then mentions several other things about Christ and the church.
It is easy to see that Jesus not only loved us enough to die on the cross for our sins; He also wants us to grow and mature as Christians. It is also easy to see how many churches there are: there is one head and one body (church). Paul states that very truth in Ephesians 4:4--"There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling." This description makes perfect sense; after all, each of us has one head and one body.
Jesus is head over the entire church. In the New Testament the word church is used in two senses: it is used in the sense of the entire body of believers (as we saw it in the book of Ephesians); and it also refers (most of the time) to a local congregation of God's people, such as "the church of the Thessalonians" (1 Thess. 1:1). All the individual congregations of God's people make up the church as a whole. But each one is Christ's church in one particular geographical area.
How many different kinds of churches are there? The Bible speaks of only one. Remember, Ephesians 4:4 says that there is "one body." In any area today, however, one will find a number of churches--all with different names. These religious groups did not come from the Bible; some man (or group of men) started them. The Lord is head over just one body. Paul wrote:
When we are baptized for the remission of our sins and the Lord adds us to the church, we may bring with us many ideas and practices that are false. We must learn the truths that are taught in the Bible, and our goal must be to "be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment" (1 Cor. 1:10). When Christians began to divide themselves into separate groups in Corinth, Paul accused them of being carnal (fleshly) rather than spiritual.
Those who are saved by the blood of Christ are all in one body--His body. Unity is what Jesus prayed for (John 17:20-21), and it is what all true believers want. We have not been placed in separate spiritual bodies that hold conflicting views; there is one body, one church. Even Jews and Gentiles (who hated one another) are both members of the one body. Consider the following test.
Now all men everywhere (rich or poor, black or white, male or female) can all be one in the church (Gal. 3:27-28). Paul goes on to say that the church was a mystery which was hidden in ages past but now is made known to all (Eph. 3:1-7).
What a privilege to be part of the church of Christ, a spiritual kingdom prepared from the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4). "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called the children of God!" (1 John 3:1). We have several responsibilities in return.
First of all, having been cleansed of sins, we must do everything we can to keep ourselves pure (1 John 3:3). Second, having been born again, we must grow spiritually (1 Peter 2:2). During that process we will learn that the whole body (the church) is "joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share. . ." (Eph. 4:16). If you have already obeyed the gospel, you are blessed indeed to be part of the church. In the last two lessons, we will discuss worship and the Christian walk.
QUESTIONS FOR LESSON #6: THE CHURCH
FILL IN THE BLANKS WITH THE PROPER ANSWER
1. The Christian confesses his sins to ________.
2. We come in contact with the blood of Christ at ____________.
3. The church is the __________ of Christ.
4. Jesus nourishes and cherishes the ____________.
5. The word church sometimes refers to the __________ body of believers, and sometimes it refers to the _________ congregation.
6. "For by one ___________ we were all baptized into one ________."
7. Christians should be "perfectly joined together in the ________ mind and in the ________ judgment."
8. When Christians are divided, it is a sign that they are ___________.
9. As Gentiles we were without __________; we had no _______.
10. We must keep ourselves ________, grow ___________________, and be sure that in the church we are a part that does its ___________.
11. The church was prepared from the _________________ of the world.
MARK THE FOLLOWING STATEMENTS TRUE OR FALSE
1. There are some sins that the blood of Jesus cannot cleanse. ______
2. Through baptism we put on Christ. ______
3. When a Christian sins, he must be baptized again. ______
4. The Lord adds a saved person to a man-made denomination. ______
5. The church has one head and several bodies. ______
6. There is only one church with Jesus being its one head. ______
7. Jesus has broken down the middle wall of division between us and made both Jew and Gentile one. ______
8. All men and women of all races can be one in the church. ______
9. Being a Christian is a great privilege involving great responsibilities. ______
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