How Did Christ Add The Saved To The Church?
When Luke concluded his account on the establishment of the church in Acts 2, he said that “the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” (v. 47)
Now, one may wonder how the Lord did the adding then. Did Jesus Christ hold the hands of the newly saved persons and brought them to those who had had already been baptized?
It’s unreasonable to think the Lord could do such thing because He had already ascended to heaven. Let it be parenthetically said that His predicted return from heaven will take place at the end of time, and He will not touch the earth (Matthew 24, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17, 2 Peter 3:10).
Several New Testament passages show that Christ has gone back to heaven. Hebrews 4:14 says, “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.” The Apostle Paul’s words in Ephesians chapter 1 corroborate the statement of the Hebrew writer. Speaking of Christ, Paul said that God demonstrated His might in Him “when He raised Him [Christ] from the dead and seated Him [Christ] at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.” (v. 19-21)
To be sure, the addition in Acts 2 refers to the process whereby one becomes a member of the Lord’s church. It concerns in first instance those who “gladly received” the gospel Peter preached on the day of Pentecost, were then baptized and were finally “added unto them [the Apostles]” (Acts 2:41). These were about three thousand individuals all together. The addition also has to do with every baptized soul who, in moments immediate to that time, was made to complement the 3000. Luke said that the number of the saved "were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women" (Acts 5:14). The addition refers, in the third place, to everyone that since then has believed in Christ through the word of the Apostles and been baptized (John 17:20). At the end of the process, one is saved from his past sins.
People who only mentally embrace the Lord’s teaching without submitting in obedience to His command to be baptized in order to be saved are a fortiori excluded from the church. Informed people know that implied in the Lord’s command to be baptized is the acts of hearing (Acts 2:37-38, John 6:45), believing (Mark 16:16, Romans 16:26), repenting (Acts 2:38, 17:30), confessing (Luke 12:8, Matthew 16:16) and being baptized (Galatians 3:26-27, 1 Corinthians 12:13).
So, Christ adds penitent believers to the church when these believers become members of the church. One becomes a member of the church when they abide by Christ’s terms and conditions for entering the church. Jesus provided the terms and conditions when He met with Nicodemus. He said on that occasion, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5)
Remember, Christ is the Saviour of the church (Ephesians 5:23). This means His death brought the church into existence; He has for this reason the right to presides over it (Ephesians 1:22). Consequently, He also has the right to determine the way one enters the church.