Articles

IS IT NECESSARY TO BE A MEMBER OF THE CHURCH TO BE SAVED?

When asked if it is necessary to be in the church to be saved, a large percentage of people will answer in the negative. A favorite cliché among them is “No, the church does not save you; Jesus is the savior, not the church!” We wholeheartedly agree that Jesus Christ is the savior of mankind. An angel revealed unto Joseph concerning Mary, “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). To the shepherds watching their sheep at night, an angel appeared unto them and declared, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). We have proclaimed this truth for more than 48 years of preaching the gospel of Christ. Nevertheless, the above cliché is misleading! It reveals that those making such a statement do not understand what the church consists of. The English word “church” is translated from the Greek word ekklesia. That Greek word means “the called out.” In obeying the gospel of Christ, a person is translated by the Heavenly Father into the kingdom of His dear Son (II Thes. 2:14; Rom. 6:3-4, 17-18; I Cor. 15:1-4; Col. 1:13-14). The same individuals who make up the church are in the spiritual kingdom of the Lord as revealed in the first chapter of the Colossian epistle. After having received scriptural baptism, that person is added by the Lord to His church (Acts 2:36-47). This is the new birth in which Jesus declared, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). Thus, the church and the spiritual kingdom of the Godhead is one and the same thing.

Other metaphors of the church include it being portrayed as liken to a physical body (I Cor. 12:12-27). Concerning this figurative language, the Apostle Paul stated that the church is the body (Eph. 1:22-23), and that the body is the church of God (Col. 1:18). Our Lord is the savior of His spiritual body (the church). At Ephesians 5:23, Paul stated, “…Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body.” For a person to claim, “You do not have to be in the church to be saved!” makes as much sense as saying, “You do not have to be a part of the saved to be saved!” Of course, a person does not have to be in a denomination to be saved in that none existed in the first century A. D. The Son of God did not die for any denomination. There is not any Biblical authority for any denomination to exist! When a person is baptized (immersed in water) for the remission of sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, that person is born into the family of God, which is the church (I Tim. 3:15).

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