Are We Added or Do We Join?
Many people are confused about the question of whether or not one joins the church which the Christ built or is added to it. Some rather casually say that they have decided to join the church of Christ. However, is that statement one that can be made accurately in light of what the Bible says about this subject? To find the answers, consultation of the Scriptures will be necessary. Acts chapter two describes the inception of the church. At the end of the chapter, Luke records this, “Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:47). An examination of this verse in the Greek text reveals that “the Lord” is the subject of this sentence. As the subject of this sentence, the Lord is doing the action, which is the Greek word translated “added.” Hence, God is performing the action of adding. Webster’s dictionary from 1828 gives these definitions for “add”: “…1. To set or put together, join or unite, as one thing or sum to another, in an aggregate; as, add three to four, the sum is seven. 2. To unite in idea or consideration; to subjoin… 3. To increase number… 4. To augment…” (E-sword, 2007). Those who were “added” were united or brought into the church by God. The next point that should be understood is the object of the “adding.” The Greek participle and its article “tous (article) sozomenous (participle)” is translated “such as should be saved” which we would understand as “the being saved ones.” This Greek word and its article are in the accusative case meaning that it is the direct object of the verb. “The being saved ones” were being added.
Who then are these saved ones? Our Lord clarified this in Mark chapter sixteen, “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:15-16). Jesus plainly stated that the saved are comprised of those that believe and obey the Gospel. Now please consider Acts 2:38-41. Those that were baptized (remember Mark 16:16) were those that had hearkened unto Peter’s sermon. Peter preached the Gospel, (again, please remember Mark 16:16) they believed, and were baptized; thus, becoming part of the saved. And it is the saved that were “added” by the Lord. There is an indirect object in this sentence, as well. The Greek noun and its article “ta (article) ekklasia (noun)” are in the dative case meaning that they are indirect objects. “The church” is the body into which the saved were added. The verb “added” was done to the saved and the saved were placed into the church. All of this was done by God.
The above explanations are somewhat in depth, though certainly not exhaustive. The verse which has been examined is a very simple and straight forward pronouncement of the process in question. Daniel chapter two supports the fact that the Lord adds one to the church, not man.
“And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the
clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure” (Dan. 2:44-45). This kingdom (which is the church) would not be established or founded by men.
Our Lord said that He would build (establish) His church (Matt: 16:18). The adding of souls to that church was certainly a part of its establishment. Jesus said He would build His church. He is saying by implication that He would be adding to His body. The Lord is head over the church (Col. 1:18); and as Head, He determines the way into His body.
Our Lord rules over His kingdom (Col. 1:13, 18). Headship of the church, salvation, forgiveness, reconciliation, and the giving of commandments to be obeyed belongs to the Christ. The church was prepared, established, and is kept by God and not by man. The church is not a man-made nor human ruled body, to which we may join ourselves at our own discretion and upon our own terms. Acts 2:47 states the matter very plainly: the Lord adds us to church upon our obedience to the Gospel.