Jesus Is Joined to Salvation – Part 2
Last time we looked at the fact that God has joined Jesus to salvation, that we cannot be saved except through Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
Certainly the cross is crucial to the matter of salvation. That is where the blood of Christ was shed. The cross is an essential part of God’s plan for saving man. It is the very culmination of God’s plan for saving mankind. Jesus died the death of Calvary, shed His blood on the cross, to save us from sin; and without the shedding of the blood of Christ, the sinless Christ, the perfect sacrifice, there could be no salvation.
However, we must understand that the shedding of Christ’s blood purchased the church, to which all the saved are added when they are obedient to the terms Jesus set forth to become Christians. Those terms or conditions of salvation involve: (1) belief in Christ as the Son of God, (2) repentance from sin (that is, changing our mind about sin and our life of sin and turning away from it), (3) confession of the name of Christ (confessing with our lips that we believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God), (4) baptism into Christ, burial with Him in the likeness of His death, to be raised with Him in the likeness of His resurrection, cleansed there by His blood. It is only in baptism that the blood of Christ is applied from Heaven, figuratively, of course, but essentially, in order for us to be forgiven of our sins.
Saul of Tarsus, later the apostle Paul, was told by Ananias, “…arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). Sins are washed away in the blood of Christ as the body is buried in that watery grave.
When we come forth from that watery grave of baptism, we are added by the Lord to His church, about which we read in the New Testament. Acts 2:47 says those that were being saved were added to the church, to the body of believers who had been obedient to the terms of Calvary. While the cross is certainly essential to salvation, if we are to receive the crown, we must obey the terms of the cross. We must look to the cross in obedience to the terms or conditions of salvation; but, when we do that, we are added to the church, and we must remain faithful in the church, in that body of believers, in order to be saved, because the saved are in the church.
Today we want to examine the church as an essential part of God’s joining Jesus to salvation. Let us look at some Scriptures which clearly show the church is important. In Matthew 16:18-19, Jesus declared, “…upon this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” Peter had just made the good confession, and Jesus said to him, “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.” In other words, I am going to give you (and, of course, the other apostles) the keys to the kingdom—that is, the terms of admission, the authority to admit those into the kingdom or the church. That was done on the first Pentecost following the resurrection of Christ.
In Acts 20:28-32, it is clear that the very shedding of the blood of Christ was to bring about the purchase of the Church. Paul, speaking to the Ephesians elders, said to them, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” Verse 28 of that text tells us that the church of God, the church that God has ordained established through Christ, with Christ as its head, was purchased with the very blood of Christ. Now, can anything be unimportant that was purchased with the blood of Jesus Christ? Certainly, it must be important.
Not only is the church of our Lord important but it is immediate. Christ told us when it would be established, and the establishment of the church was in the days just after Christ ascended to the Father. The kingdom, or the church, was near at hand at the time Christ lived among men and preached the gospel. John the baptizer was the forerunner of Christ, and in Matthew 3:1-2, we read, “In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea. And saying, Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
The kingdom of heaven and the church are one and the same institution. If we go back to Matthew 16:18-19, we see Jesus there used the terms “church” and “kingdom” interchangeably. He said, “…upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys to the kingdom of heaven.” The church and the kingdom are used interchangeably there in Jesus’ promise to build the church.
“In those days came John the Baptist, preaching and saying the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” In other words, the kingdom of heaven is close to being established. Let’s look at another passage that clearly shows the church was an immediate institution that is, it was about to be established during the New Testament period. In Mark 9:1, Jesus said, “Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.” There the kingdom of God is the same as the kingdom of heaven or the church. Jesus said, “There are some of you standing here who will not taste of death (that is, you will not die) until you have seen the kingdom of God, the church, come into existence.” Not only that, He said, “It will come with power.”
That is important, because we’re going to see the power to which Jesus refers here is mentioned again as He speaks to His apostles in Acts 1:8. He says to them, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
Acts 2:1-4 tells us exactly when the Holy Ghost came upon the apostles. This is the record of what took place on the first Pentecost day following the resurrection of Christ and His ascension back to the Father. Notice: “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place, And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Notice the power of the Holy Ghost came upon the apostles on the first Pentecost day following the resurrection of Christ.
What is the argument here of the immediacy of the church? It is that Jesus said it would come before the death of some of those with him at that time. Remember John the Baptist preached, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Now notice, Jesus said in Mark 9:1 it would come with power before some of those died to whom He was speaking. Then He told the apostles (Acts 1:8) they would receive power when the Holy Ghost came. So, the power would come when the Holy Ghost came, and Acts 2:1-4 shows us the Holy Ghost came upon the apostles on that first Pentecost following the resurrection of Christ. Thus, that’s when the kingdom came into existence. It is a present institution, not a future one. And the kingdom and the church are the same. They are not different.
In an earlier lesson, “The Church is Born,” we dealt in detail with the Premillennial theory that the kingdom and the church are different and that the kingdom is some future institution while the church is a present substitute for it. Clearly, the church and the kingdom are the same, and the church is an immediate institution. It is here and now, and it is important.