SALVATION IS WITHIN THE CHURCH
It is an admitted fact that salvation can be had outside man-made churches, but salvation is not offered apart from the Lord’s church. The fact that it is generally admitted by those who advocate denominationalism that a person can be saved outside the membership of their church proves the uselessness of such churches! The Bible teaches that the true church is the family of God, the body of Christ, the kingdom of God. (I Tim. 3:15: Col. 1:18; Col. 1:13.) No person could expect to be saved outside of the family of God, the body of Christ, for Paul declares: “But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.” (I Cor. 12:18.) And, the Lord sees to it that all the saved are in the church. (Acts 2:47.)
Through the cross Christ reconciles men unto God “in one body” (Eph. 2:13-16), and that “one body” is the church. (Eph. 1:22, 23; Col. 1:18; I Cor. 12:20.) To contend that the Lord’s church is not essential, since it was purchased with the blood of Christ, is to take the position that the blood of Christ is non-essential! If one can be saved outside of Christ’s church, then one is forced to the position that Christ’s death was useless. Any doctrine which minimizes and belittles the death of Christ is false doctrine. Therefore, the doctrine that salvation can be enjoyed outside of the Lord’s church is false doctrine.
Popular statements relative to the church are: “We want people to be saved, and then let them join the church of their choice”; or, “One church is as good as another; the church does not save you.” When a person makes those kind of statements he thinks of the church simply in terms of denominationalism and, therefore, in terms of the doctrines and commandments of men. If one has reference to being saved outside of any and/or all denominational churches, that of course, is a different matter. It is true that one not only does not need to be in a denomination; in fact he should stay out of all denominations. A very good question is: “Can a person be saved in a denomination?” There is no doubt that a person can be saved outside of all of the Catholic and Protestant denominations, but the important question is: “Can a person be saved in a denomination?” One cannot be saved outside of the Lord’s church (Acts 2:47), therefore, to be in the Lord’s church is essential to salvation; but one never reads of anybody during the first century being in any denomination. In fact, Paul denied that the Lord’s church was a sect, and denied that anyone could prove that it was.
(Acts 24:5, 13, 14.) We must go deeper than emotional appeal if we would penetrate to the full significance of the question, “Can people be saved outside of the Lord’s church?”
Let us consider the question from another angle, (1) If a person can be saved outside of the Lord’s church as well as in it, that is equivalent to saying that he can be saved without the blood of Christ; for the Lord gave His blood to purchase the church and therefore only in the church does the blood save. (Acts 20:28; Eph. 5:25.) When one contends that he can be saved outside of the Lord’s church, he is saying that he has absolutely no need for the blood of Christ. (2) The Bible teaches that the church and the kingdom are the same institution (the disciples were to partake of the Lord’s supper in His kingdom in Luke 22:18 and 19), but we learn that they did this in the church (I Cor. 1:1, 2; 11; 18-34); therefore, the church and the kingdom are one and the same institution! If a person could be saved outside of the church, that would mean he could be saved outside of the kingdom of God; that is he could be saved without submitting to God. But since there are but two kingdoms on earth — i.e., the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan, it follows that if a man can be saved outside of the church, he can be saved in the kingdom of Satan, and that would deny plain Bible teaching. (3) The New Testament teaches that the church of Christ is the family of God. (I Tim. 3:15.) If a man can be saved outside the family (or church) of God that would be equivalent to saying that one can be saved in the devil’s family. There are only two families on earth. Question: “Where is salvation? In the Lord’s family (the church) or in the devil’s family?” There are only two families on earth. Another question: “Does God have any children outside of His family? Can a man be saved while yet in the family of Satan?” These questions must be dealt with by every honest person when they are reaching a conclusion as to the necessity of membership in the Lord’s church.