12 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:12–13, NKJV).
Scripture says the body of Christ is His church (Eph. 1:22-23). There is one church, one body, and Christ is its head and Savior (Eph. 1:22; 4:4; 5:23). Christ’s body is composed of those baptized into it. Each sinner is saved and added by the Lord to His church when he follows the Spirit’s teaching in baptism (Acts 2:37-38, 40-41, 47). Without a doubt, Christ’s church is composed of Christians. Each Christian is a member of His body. Yet, the practices and doctrines of men divided the church, producing many denominations (1 Cor. 1:10-13; Rom. 16:17). These denominations now tell us to “choose the church of your choice” and say the church of Christ is composed of churches (i.e., Reformed, Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist, Evangelical, etc.), and the important thing is Christ, not the church. Today’s passage denies this offer and explanation. Individuals are “baptized into one body,” churches are not (v. 13). “All the members” of the “one body” are those baptized into it (v. 12-13). The “members” of the “one body” in today’s passage are Christians, not churches (i.e., denominations). A self-serving corruption of this passage’s context concludes Christ’s body is composed of churches (see 1 Cor. 12:11, 14-27, esp. v. 27; Rom. 12:5). Jesus built His church (Matt. 16:18; Acts 2:47). Men have built their churches. Of which are you a member? Which one do you suppose prevails against the power of sin and death (Matt. 16:18; Eph. 5:23, 25-27)?
For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell (Colossians 1:19, NKJV).
Jesus Christ is exalted and magnified by the Father as He is the fullness of God’s redemptive work. Ephesians 1:10 provides a parallel: “that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him.” Paul summarized the fullness that dwells in Jesus Christ in Colossians 1:14-18. (1) Redemption is in Christ (1:14). Salvation from sins is only in Jesus (Acts 4:12). (2) He is the image of the invisible God (1:15). When we see Jesus, we see the Father, for He manifested Him to the world (John 1:18; 14:9; Heb. 1:3). (3) He is the firstborn over creation (1:15). He ranks above everything seen and unseen because all things were created by Him, through Him, and for Him (1:16; John 1:1-3). (4) He is eternal (1:17). His “goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity” (Micah 5:2, NASB). (5) He holds all things together (1:17). He is “upholding all things by the word of His power” (Heb. 1:3). (6) He is the head of the church (1:18). The church is His body, those saved by His blood (Eph. 1:22-23; Acts 2:47; 20:28). It is “the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (Eph. 1:23). (7) He is the first cause of everything (1:18). He is the Creator. “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” (John 1:3). (8) He is the firstborn of the dead (1:18). Raised, never to die again, He has power over death (1 Cor. 15:20). (9) He has preeminence over all things (1:18). He has all authority in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18). All we need to live with God now and eternally is in Jesus Christ. Praise be to God for such a Savior!
When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place (Acts 2:1, NKJV).
The second chapter of Acts records a transformative moment, a pivotal point in the Scriptures. The Day of Pentecost was also known as the Feast of Weeks (Num. 28:26; Deut. 16:10), the Feast of Harvest (Exod. 23:16), and the day of the first fruits (Num. 28:26). This Pentecost would be a day of harvesting souls, the first fruits of the gospel. Many “first” things happened that day. (1) It was the first day of the week (Lev. 23:15-16). The first day of each week continues to call saints to assembled worship (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2; Heb. 10:25). (2) The apostles preached the first gospel sermon opening the way to salvation. They used the keys of the kingdom, opening the door to salvation for sinners (Matt. 16:19; 18:18; Acts 2:40). (3) Sinners heard the plan of salvation for the first time. The apostles told those who believed the gospel to repent and be baptized to be forgiven of their sins (Acts 2:36-38). (4) The first gospel conversions took place. About three thousand did so and were saved (Acts 2:40-41). Christ still saves souls this way. (5) The first church came into existence that day. The church of Christ came into being. The Jerusalem church increased daily as the Lord added saved ones to His church (Acts 2:47). After Pentecost, Acts 2 records the first kingdom worship of the church (Acts 2:42) and the first acts of church benevolence (Acts 2:44-45). Acts 2 records the fulfillment of kingdom prophecies from Psalm 2, Isaiah 2, Joel 2, Daniel 2, and many more. Acts 2 has been called the hub of the Bible. Indeed.
He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love (Colossians 1:13, NKJV).
It is essential we correctly identify “the kingdom of the Son” into which God transfers the lost when saved (delivered out of sin’s powerful darkness). Jesus said His kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36). While He was on the earth, He withdrew from those who wanted to make Him king forcibly (John 6:15). The nature of His kingdom is spiritual. Therefore, it is established or advanced by earthly means (Luke 17:20-21). Premillennialists teach Jesus will conquer evil and return to earth to reign over a thousand-year kingdom. But, the saved ones are already fellow citizens of His kingdom (Col. 1:13; Rev. 1:6, 9). Jesus identified His kingdom as His church in Matthew 16:18-19. Jesus now reigns as the victorious king over His kingdom, the church (Psalm 2; 110:1-2; Acts 2:32-36; Heb. 1:8-9, 13). Christ has secured victory over sin and death. His church triumphs over sin and Satan by the blood of the Lamb, who is worthy to reign (Rev. 1:5-6; 5:9-10, 13). Thus, Scripture says we are “receiving a kingdom” (receiving is a present, active participle) now (Heb. 12:28). The church of Christ is the kingdom of Christ. Christians currently serve the King “in the day of His power” (Psalm 110:3; Matt. 28:18; Eph. 1:20-23; Heb. 1:3). The saved compose Christ’s kingdom, His church (Acts 2:47). The church is the kingdom that cannot be shaken by the kingdoms of men (Dan. 2:44; Heb. 12:28). God be thanked Jesus reigns today as “the Lord of righteousness” (Jer. 23:5-6; Heb. 1:8-9).
4 So when the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” 5 Then He said, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground” (Exodus 3:4–5, NKJV).
There was no discernible difference between rocks and dirt on “the mountain of God” and the rest of the wilderness in which Moses tended his father-in-law’s flock (Exod. 3:1). So why was this place “holy ground?” Because God was there. His presence consecrated the ground, demanding reverent respect and obeisance of God from Moses. Later, God called Israel a “holy nation,” foreshadowing the church of Christ (Exod. 19:5-6; 1 Pet. 2:9). The “Most Holy” place of the tabernacle and temple was reserved for the ark of the covenant and mercy seat, and a veil separated it from the “holy place” (Exod. 26:33-34). The hope that anchors our souls is “both sure and steadfast” and “enters the Presence behind the veil” because Jesus our High Priest is in the holiest place (heaven), ministering over the house of God, His church (Heb. 4:14-16; 6:19-20; 8:1-2). God called Israel to holy living because He is holy (Lev. 11:44-45; 19:2). Under the law of Moses, this included distinguishing between what was clean and unclean, profane and holy (Lev. 20:7, 25-26). The gospel calls us to regard the presence and holiness of God our Father fearfully. As obedient children, we must be holy in all our conduct because our Father is holy (1 Pet. 1:13-17). Take off your sandals; The place you stand is holy ground (Eph. 2:21; 1 Pet. 2:5).
46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved (Acts 2:46–47, NKJV).
The Scriptures show a distinction and separation between the collective activity of a local church (assembling “in the temple”) and the individual action of its members (“from house to house”). Specifically, this passage teaches the local church is not a mess hall designed to feed stomachs. It is the house of God, intended to feed souls the word of God (1 Tim. 3:15; Acts 20:7, 28). People have turned local churches into little more than community centers offering all sorts of social, recreational, political, and other secular-based activities that Scripture does not assign to churches. Such things are left to individual disciples to do when and how they please (Gal. 6:10). The Scriptures reveal the local church does not automatically have the Lord’s approval to do whatever individual Christians may do. Notably, in 1 Timothy 5:16, the church is not charged with an action expected of certain Christians. Since the Lord adds saved ones to the church, the individual and the church are not the same thing (Acts 2:47). Do not assume “whatever the individual Christian may do the local church may do.” Such an assertion does not withstand the scrutiny of Scripture.
He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore” (Isaiah 2:4, NKJV).
Isaiah lifted his eyes above Jerusalem’s mountain (upon which sat Solomon’s temple) to visionary heights of “the mountain of the Lord’s house,” to which “all nations” would flow in the latter days (Isa. 2:2; Acts 2:16-17; Heb. 1:2). His prophecy of “the mountain of the Lord,” the “house of the God of Jacob,” foresees the church Jesus built (Isa. 2:3; Matt. 16:18; Eph. 2:19-22; Heb. 3:3-6). The “word of the Lord” would go into all the world from Jerusalem, which began on Pentecost after Jesus’s ascension (Isa. 2:3; Luke 24:46-47; Acts 1:8; 2:1ff). God’s house “shall walk in its path” as we “learn His ways” (Isa. 2:3). Today’s verse describes the effect of the gospel in hearts and lives. The good news of Christ replaces conflict with cooperation, animosity with amicability, and war with peace (cf. Isa. 11:6-9; Eph. 2:14-18). This verse does not describe a futuristic millennial kingdom on earth, far from it (John 18:36). It describes Mount Zion’s habitation of holiness, the heavenly Jerusalem, the “general assembly and church of the firstborn” (Heb. 12:22-23). Sowing the seed of the kingdom in hearts brings peace and advances the kingdom of Christ. Jesus is “our peace,” our King who has come with salvation and speaking “peace to the nations” (Eph. 2:14; Zech. 9:9-10). Learn His ways and walk in His path. You will have peace with God and with other like-minded souls “in one body through the cross,” His church (Eph. 2:16; 4:4).
The blessing of the Lord makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it” (Proverbs 10:22, NKJV).
Christians possess riches unknown to the world. Our heavenly treasures abound, and we praise God for the spiritual bounty He gives us in Christ (Eph. 1:3). We do not measure our wealth in dollars, land holdings, stocks, bonds, commodities, or other material possessions. All these riches are fleeting and attended by sorrow (Eccl. 5:10-17). Spiritual blessings are beyond the reach of moth and rust and thieves (Matt. 6:19-20). Here are just some of them: (1) Redemption from sin by God’s grace (Eph. 1:4-14). We are chosen, adopted, accepted, forgiven, saved, given an inheritance, and sealed. (2) Full assurance of understanding in Christ (Col. 2:2-3). His disciples abide in His word, know the truth, and are freed from sin (John 8:31-32). (3) Prayer (Phil. 4:6). Our Father hears the prayers of His children, so we continue earnestly in prayer (Col. 4:2; 1 Thess. 5:17). (4) The church (Eph. 1:22-23). We are members of Christ’s body and, therefore, “members of one another” (Acts 2:47; Rom. 12:4-5). What a rich blessing to be brothers and sisters together in Christ (Matt. 12:46-50). (5) An eternal inheritance (Eph. 1:18). Peter assures us it is incorruptible, undefiled, and reserved in heaven for us (1 Pet. 1:4). (6) A living hope (Eph. 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:3). Our hope secures our souls because Christ arose from the dead (1 Cor. 15:19-20; Acts 24:15). (7) Joy (Phil. 4:4). We rejoice in the Lord always, in good and troubled times (James 1:2-4). God does not add sorrow to those He enriches (Prov. 10:22). The world tries to do so, but we are of good cheer because Christ has overcome the world (John 16:33).
Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight (Acts 20:7, NKJV).
Gallup reported this week that “U.S. Church Membership Falls Below Majority for First Time.” “In 2020, 47% of Americans said they belonged to a church, synagogue or mosque, down from 50% in 2018 and 70% in 1999” (news.gallup.com). New Testament Christians know the spiritual value of being members of a local body of saints (1 Cor. 12:12-27). The Lord arranged local churches for our spiritual edification (which includes worship), the spread of the gospel, and relief of needy Christians (Acts 2:42-45; 4:32-35; 11:22; 20:28-35). Churches of Christ assemble on the first day of the week to offer God worship “in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24). Scripture shows how true worship honors God and strengthens Christians in the faith (1 Cor. 14:26; Eph. 5:19). Therefore, membership in a local church is a responsibility of great importance to Christians (Acts 9:26-28; Rom. 16:2). Being a member of a local church identifies each Christian as part of a working group of believers striving to do God’s will (Rom. 12:4; Eph. 4:16; Rev. 2-3). Christians will be active members of faithful congregations (there is no floating membership or “membership-at-large” in the New Testament). May each Christian be committed to fully participating in assembled worship and the other scriptural work given the local church by the Lord (Heb. 10:24-25).
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:4–6, NKJV).
God made “us alive together with Christ” when we were dead in our trespasses and sins (v. 5). Three questions arise as we consider God’s tremendous work of saving sinners. (1) Why save us? Three elements of God’s character answer why God saves sinners: His mercy, love, and grace (v. 4-5). God’s mercy is rich, His love is great, and His grace is available to all (Titus 2:11; 3:4-5; 1 John 4:10-11). Without God’s mercy, love, and grace, we would all face the wages of our sins, eternal death (Rom. 6:23). (2) Who is saved? The “us” who are made “alive together” constitute the church, the body of Christ, the household of God (Eph. 1:22-23; 2:14-22). The Lord adds saved people to His church (Acts 2:47). Therefore, the church is essential; it is the saved ones (Eph. 3:10-11; 5:25-27). (3) Where is salvation? Salvation is “in Christ.” Sinners are raised out of the death of sins to “sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (v. 6). The “heavenly places” signifies the spiritual relationship of salvation in Christ. In the “heavenly places,” we have fellowship with Christ, every spiritual blessing, and we stand with Christ in the battle against the devil and evil (Eph. 2:6; 1:3; 6:10-13). God still The riches of God’s grace continue to be proclaimed in the gospel to everyone, offering salvation “by grace…through faith” (Eph. 2:7-8).