The New Testament mentions only one church. Jesus said, “I will build My church…” (Matthew 16.18).
Years later Paul wrote, speaking of Christ, “He is also head of the body, the church…” and “There is one body…” (Colossians 1.18; Ephesians 4.4).
So if there is one body and the body is the church, then there is one church and Jesus is its head. It is His church and over His church He exercises all authority (Matthew 28.18).
Conditions of Membership
Since Jesus has all authority, He has the right to set the conditions of membership for His church. A study of the New Testament reveals the following requirements for membership in the Lord’s church:
Faith or Belief (John 8.24) that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God and the sacrifice for our sins. “…without faith it is impossible to please Him” (Hebrews 11.6).
Repentance (Luke 13.3) is a change of the will, a determination to walk in the opposite direction. God calls “all people everywhere to repent” (Acts 17.30).
Confession (Matthew 10.32) is the declaration or statement of belief in the deity of Jesus and the saving power of His sacrifice. “For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved” (Romans 10.10).
Baptism (Mark 16.16) is an immersion or burial in water. It is a symbolic death, burial, and resurrection. It is essential for salvation. A person cannot be saved without baptism because “…baptism saves you…” (1 Peter 3.21).
The Significance of Baptism
The New Testament states that baptism is necessary in order to be in Christ (Galatians 3.27).
Baptism stands between the sinner and salvation (Mark 16.16; 1 Peter 3.21).
Baptism stands between the sinner and the remission of his sins (Acts 2.38).
Baptism stands between the sinner and his being clothed in Christ (Galatians 3.27).
Baptism stands between the sinner and having his sins washed away (Acts 22.16.)
Baptism stands between the sinner and his being united with Christ in the likeness of His death (Romans 6.3).
We need to remember it’s Christ’s church. If we want the blessings and salvation He has promised to all who are a part of His body, then we need to do what He said – not what men have taught. “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14.15).