The body of Christ, or the church (Colossians 1:18) consists of those who have responded in like manner since the church began on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2). At that time, Peter clearly stated that those believers now must repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). The Lord then added them to the church (Acts 2:47). Elders were appointed in local autonomous congregations (Acts 14:23) to be responsible for sound doctrine and correct teaching, in accordance with the word of God (Titus 1:9).
The plan of salvation under the new covenant of Christ is clearly laid out in God’s word: Hear (Romans 10:17), Believe (Mark 16:15-16), Confess (Romans 10:9-10), Repent (Luke 13:3), and be Baptized for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38) which washes those sins away (Acts 22:16). Obedience to His commands is how we know Him! As a result, the final aspect of salvation is to live faithful unto death (Revelation 2:10).
The true Christian, meaning one who is committed to Christ, must vow to obey God’s will which can only be known through His Holy Word. For example, one must pray for forgiveness of any sin that comes up in life. That is part of the cleansing power of Jesus (I John 1:7), but we must also pray and seriously repent of that sin. Confessing it to God means, while we still stumble, we will not intentionally repeat it over and over (I John 1:9). Some sin may be of a public nature which means reproach is brought on the church, the body of Christ. Therefore, repentance should come before the congregation since the sin is against the church as a whole, if it is generally known to the public. The confession of sin should be as public as the sin itself (James 5:16).
God knows we won’t be perfect but expects us to do our best (Matthew 6:33, 7:21, and Hebrews 10:26). That’s why He gave us His Son, to intercede for us, and that we might have life! In this earthly life, we also know that not all that happens will be good. Tough times and trials occur, but they are there to strengthen us (James 1:2-4). Ultimately, we also know that “for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
As a member of the body of Christ, Jesus also said that those who live faithfully until death will receive the “crown of life” (Revelation 2:10) in heaven. Faithful living in the Lord’s church includes:
Abiding by the greatest commandment: “Love the Lord with all our hearts, all our souls, all our minds and love our neighbors as ourselves” (Luke 10:27)
Putting away works of the flesh; showing the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5)
Assembling to worship with other Christians (Acts 2:42, 20:7, I Corinthians 16:1-2) and not forsaking the assembly (Hebrews 10:25). In addition to our command to worship, we encourage and uplift each other.
Loving earthly family: Between wives and husbands, parents and children (Ephesians 5:24-6:4); Marriage is one man, one woman, cleaving together as one and divorce is authorized only through adultery (Matthew 5:32, 19:4-9).
Praying regularly (I Thessalonians 5:19, James 5:16)
Caring for others (Galatians 6:10, James 1:27)
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