6. Is it through the baptism with the Holy Spirit that one becomes a
member of the Body of Christ?
No, it isn’t. Otherwise we should conclude that the apostles, before
they were baptized with the Holy Spirit, were not members of the Body of
Christ, that is, of the Church of Christ. Can we say such a thing about those men? No, for
Jesus, before He was arrested, had said to them: “I am the true vine, and my
Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh
away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring
forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto
you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself,
except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the
vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same
bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:1-5).
Particularly, I would like you to notice that Jesus said He was the vine
while His disciples were the branches of the vine; therefore since the
branches are part of the vine, it is evident that the apostles were real
believers even before they were baptized with the Holy Spirit on the day of
Pentecost, and so they were members of the Body of Christ.
The above mentioned words were spoken by Jesus to His disciples before
He suffered on the cross, but even after He suffered Jesus said to His
disciples some words that make it clear that they were members of the Body of
Christ. For instance, when Jesus appeared to His disciples He said: “Peace be
unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said
this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:
Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever
sins ye retain, they are retained” (John -23). Therefore since the apostles had the Holy
Spirit (a measure of the Holy Spirit) before the day of Pentecost, it is
evident that the Holy Spirit bore witness with their spirit that they were
children of God and thus members of the Church, even before the day of
Pentecost, on which they were filled with the Holy Spirit.
Therefore, let no one deceive you with empty words, brothers, for a
believer is a member of the Body of Christ (that is, of the Church of God) even before he is baptized with the Holy Spirit. Whoever
has believed in the Lord Jesus Christ is born of God, that is, he has been
regenerated through the Word of God and the Spirit of the Living God. Therefore
he is a son of God, and if he is a son, he is a member of the Church of God, that is, of the spiritual house in which God lives
by His Spirit (Ephesians ). One becomes a member of the Church of God when he believes, and not when he is baptized with
the Holy Spirit and begins to speak with other tongues.