Salvation and the Church

The church of the Lord is the body of saved persons who have been redeemed by Christ. (Acts 2:47, Ephesians 5:23) The Lord adds continually to the church those who are being saved. The very means by which one receives forgiveness of sins is the same that makes him a member of the church. It is therefore impossible for one to be saved and not be in the church of Christ.

This truth is illustrated in Ephesians 1:22-23, where we are told that God gave Christ “to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.” Since the church is the fullness of Christ, to be in Christ is to be in the church and vice versa. It then follows that the same means by which one is said to be “in Christ” also puts one into the church. And this the Bible affirms. One is baptized “into Christ” (Galatians 3:27), Romans 6:3), and at the same time “into one body,” the church. (1 Corinthians 12:13)

Since the “saved” are added to the church, it follows that one must be baptized (as a penitent believer) to be saved. And so the Bible affirms: Mark 16:16, 1 Peter 3:21.

If one can be saved out of the church, he can be saved out of Christ. (Ephesians 1:22-23)

If one can be saved out of the church, he can be saved without a Savior. (Ephesians 5:23)

If one can be saved out of the church, he can be saved without Christ knowing it. (Acts 2:47)

But if one must be in Christ to be saved, then he must be baptized. (Romans 6:3)

All who are baptized to be saved in Christ, He adds to His church. (1 Peter 3:21, Acts 2:47)

Also we note that one is not saved at one time and then later joins a church of his choice. According to the Bible, there is “one body” (Ephesians 4:4, 1:22-23), and to it the Lord does the adding. There is no “joining,” which suggests human requirements and human acceptance. Jesus set forth the conditions. He told His disciples to preach the gospel, promising that “he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” (Mark 16:16) When men evidence this faith in obedience, being baptized, the Lord adds them to the church. (Acts 2:41,47) There is no “joining” – the same means by which they are saved puts them into the body of the saved, which is the church.

Of course, we are speaking of the church one reads about in the Bible, which predates all denominations. We recognize and readily admit with all others that one can be saved without joining any denomination. Jesus did not purpose a singe denomination, much less all of them; He did not purchase a one; He is not the Savior of one; He does not add the saved to a one. (Matthew 16:18, Acts 20:28, Ephesians 5:23, Acts 2:47) And this constitutes our plea: Let us return to the pure, unadulterated purpose of God in Christ (Ephesians 3:10-11), obey Christ and be added to His church. As members of His body, we can meet and worship together according to His will, without any human creed or discipline. We plead not with men to join some denomination, embrace some creed of men, but simply to do as one can read in the testament of Christ!