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Discovery Magazine 1/1/2002

God Sends Us a Gift-His Son's Church

by  Bert Thompson, Ph.D.

On occasion, writers in the Old Testament spoke of someone important who was coming in the future. That “someone” was Jesus Christ, Who would save people from their sins. In the New Testament, we learn that Jesus was the Son of God. He lived a sinless life (Hebrews 4:15) in order to set a perfect example for us. But before He returned to His Father, He said He was going to leave behind something special to help people who loved and obeyed Him get to heaven. That “something” was His church (Matthew 16:17-18).

Shortly after Jesus returned to heaven, many people were visiting Jerusalem for a Jewish event known as the Day of Pentecost. The apostle Peter preached a powerful sermon to those people (Acts 2:14-36). After hearing it, they knew that Jesus was God’s Son. Approximately 3,000 people believed Peter and asked what they should do to be forgiven of their sins.

Sin separates people from God (Isaiah 59:1-2). Since everyone has sinned (Romans 3:23), and since the penalty for sin is death (Romans 6:23), everyone needs God’s forgiveness. One of the purposes of the New Testament is to explain how people can receive forgiveness of their sins.

On that day long ago in Jerusalem, God sent us a gift—His Son’s church. The word “church” refers to people who are “called out” from the world to be Christians because they have done what God commanded them to do to be saved from their sins. The apostle Paul said that Christ is the Savior of His body (Ephesians 5:22) and that Christ’s body is the church. Therefore, if we want to be saved from our sins, we must be a member of Christ’s body, the church. But how do we become a member of Christ’s church?

First, we must hear God’s instructions so that we can build faith in Him and His Son (Romans 10:17). Second, we must believe that Christ is God’s Son (John 3:16). Third, we must be sorry that we have sinned and be willing to repent, which means we will try our best not to sin in the future (Luke 13:3). Fourth, we must be willing to confess before others that Jesus is God’s Son (Romans 10:9-10). Fifth, we must be baptized to wash away our sins (Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16). Baptism is where someone places us completely under water and then raises us up, which represents the burial and resurrection of Christ (Romans 6:3-4). When we have done all these things, then God adds us to His Son’s church (Acts 2:41). [Remember that you don’t “join” the church; instead, God adds you to it.] If we remain faithful, God will take us home to heaven when we die (Revelation 2:10). God gave us specific instructions that would lead us to heaven. We must do exactly what God told us to do, in exactly the way He told us to do it.

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*Please keep in mind that Discovery articles are written for 3rd-6th graders.

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