CHURCH-08 - The Church is Essential to Salvation
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CHURCH OF CHRIST
The apostle Paul encouraged the elders at Ephesus to shepherd, or oversee, the
church of God, which He purchased with His own blood. Is the church essential to
salvation? Must I be a member of the church that you read about in the Bible to go to
heaven? Is it something I must be a part of to be right with God? This is the question
that we hope to look to God's word to give the answer to today.
Is the church of the Bible essential to salvation? Meaning, must I be a member of
the Lord's church, the New Testament church, to go to heaven? Why is this an
important topic? In this day and age there are so many people who want to be
definitively indefinite. That is they don't want there to be anything definite to hang onto;
they want everything to be kind of objective and nebulous like in the days of Judges. In
Judges 21:25, ‘every man wanted to do that which was right in his own eyes.’ So many
people will say if you really want to draw people into the church, don't have any definite
standard that you push. Does the Bible teach that we need to be definitively indefinite
on the church? That everything's kind of up in the air, and that it doesn't matter? Of
course the answer to that is a resounding no. God does have clear teaching on His
This is an important topic, because there is a mindset that says; give me Christ
but not the church. People want Jesus but not religion, as though the two are separable.
Biblically speaking, do people understand, what they're asking for when they ask for
Christ without the church? Do they not realize that they're asking for a decapitated
Savior? Ephesians 1:22-23 says, “Jesus is the head of His church, which is His body.”
Can you separate Christ from the church? As well as you could separate a head from a
body. How well would that work? Well it wouldn't work well at all, yet that mindset
prevails in our society today.
There's a lot of teaching and preaching that is watered down. So many people
are afraid of offending others with this subject that we sometimes don't address it as we
should. Christians’ responsibility is to preach the word. There are a lot of teachers after
their own desires, who've got itching ears, and they'll guide them away from the truth.
Christians need to be concerned with pleasing God, with giving a Bible answer on this,
and letting God speak on the matter. Let's let the Lord's church once again be distinct
on this subject. Let the whole counsel of God be considered, Acts 20:27. Let's realize
we don't become someone's enemy by speaking the truth. Paul asked, “Have I become
your enemy because I tell you the truth?” The Scriptures affirm that the church of the
Lord Jesus Christ, the church you read about in your New Testament, is indeed
essential to salvation.
Is it essential that Jesus Christ die for and buy the church with his own blood? In
Acts 20:28 Paul encouraged the elders at Ephesus, to oversee the flock or the church of
the Lord, which He, Christ, purchased with His own blood. Jesus’ blood purchased the
church. Did Jesus purchase something nonessential, that wasn't important? Did Jesus
die for something that it really doesn't matter whether you're a member of or not? It is
the body that is the saved. In Ephesians 5:25, Paul encouraged husbands to ‘love their
wives as Christ loved the church;’ Jesus died for the church, and it is the body of the
saved. Is that placing something that's just an option? Is that something that's
unnecessary? Did Jesus purchase a saved people who are not important? Do you see
the importance of the church? The body of that saved people is the church. Ephesians
1:22-23 says that Jesus is head of the church, which is His body. If the body’s the
saved, and the church is the body, then the church is the saved people, it's the called
out and surely it is not at all something that is nonessential in today's day and age.
Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ promised to save His church, and that all other
religious organizations of men would be destroyed on the final day. Matthew 15:13,
Jesus said, “Leave them alone. They're blind leaders of the blind. If the blind lead the
blind, they'll both fall into the ditch.” Jesus clearly taught, in that passage, that that which
Christ did not build would be burned up in the last day. “Every tree which My Father has
not planted will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” Jesus wasn't talking about trees,
for the very next breath He said, “They are blind leaders of the blind.” Religious
organizations that are not established by Christ will not stand, but the good news is His
church, that which is essential to be a member of to be saved will stand. The church of
the Lord Jesus Christ is essential to salvation.
Realize that everybody draws a line on that which is essential to salvation. For
example, if we ask today, is faith in Jesus essential to salvation? A lot of people would
say, definitively, draw a line in the sand, if you don't have faith you cannot be saved.
The Scripture affirms that. Hebrews 11:6, “Without faith it's impossible to please God,
for he that comes to Him must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those
who diligently seek Him.”
Is grace essential to salvation? Again if you ask a host of religious people, must
you have grace to be saved? The majority would draw a line, and say absolutely and
rightly so, “By grace are you saved,” Ephesians 2:8. If we were to ask religious people is
repentance essential to salvation? Must you repent of sin to be saved? The majority
would say yes, and rightly so. Luke 13:3, Jesus said, “Unless you repent, you will all
likewise perish.” Is baptism essential? Not as many people would agree, but friend
Peter said, “Baptism does now also save us,” 1 Peter 3:21 and Acts 2:38. If we're all
going to draw a line whether it is faith, grace, repentance, why don't we let God tell us
where that line is? Why not let God tell us if the church is indeed essential to salvation?
How can I know the church is essential to salvation? Would you agree that it's
the case that preaching Christ is essential to salvation? The majority are going to say
yes. He's the way, the truth, and the light; and without Christ you cannot be saved.
People will affirm, yes, preaching Christ is essential to salvation. Here’s what it really
means to preach Christ, Acts 8:5, “Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and
preached Christ to them.” People have got to hear about Christ to be saved, but what
does it mean to preach Christ? Whatever Philip preached has to be essential, right? It
says he preached Christ. In Acts 8:12, the Bible says, “But when they believed Philip as
he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ,
both men and women were baptized.” What does it mean to preach Christ? Let's let the
Scripture tell us. As they believed the things he preached concerning the kingdom, and
the authority, or name of Jesus men and women were baptized. Preaching Christ is
essential; preaching Christ includes preaching the church, therefore the church is
essential to salvation.
Let's realize that the church and the kingdom, in the New Testament, are one
and the same. Jesus said in Mark 9:1 to some of his disciples, “You will not taste death
until you see the kingdom present with power.” Jesus promised His disciples would see
the kingdom. Did that happen? Matthew 16:18-19, Jesus said to Peter, “I'll build my
church; I'm going to give you the keys of the kingdom.” Again the church and the
kingdom are `the same in Scripture. Acts 2:47 says, “The Lord added to the church daily
those are being saved.” The kingdom is the church. Remember, preaching Christ is
essential; preaching Christ includes preaching the church, Acts 8:12, therefore the
church of the Lord Jesus Christ, the kingdom is essential to salvation.
The church is essential because when Christ comes He'll save His people and
take them home to live with Him. Nobody denies that on that final day, when Christ
comes back He's going to collect His own, and they're going to go to be with Him and
God in heaven. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, the Bible says ‘there'll be a shout, we'll hear
the voice of an archangel, the trumpet of God, the dead in Christ will rise first, then we
who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet
them in the air.’ We shall always be with the Lord. At the second coming, the saved are
going home with Christ; those whom Christ will take home with Him are in the church. 1
Corinthians 15:24, “Then comes the end when He (Jesus) delivers the kingdom to God
the Father, when He puts an end all rule all authority and power.” Now Jesus is coming
to save His own, when He comes He will take the kingdom and deliver it to the Father,
therefore at the coming of Christ those in the church are those who are going home to
live with God forever. I cannot get around the idea that the kingdom, the church of the
Lord Jesus Christ, is the essential place one must be at the end of this life and
preparing for the second coming or at the second coming. Therefore the church is
indeed essential to salvation.
The church is essential to salvation because the Scriptures teach one's name
must be on God's divine record to be saved. Revelation 17:8, the Bible says, “The beast
that you saw was, and is not, and will ascend out of the bottomless pit and go to
perdition. And those who dwell on the earth will marvel, whose names are not written in
the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast that was, and
is, not and yet is.” There are apocalyptic things happening here, things of world events
no doubt of the first century, but it mentioned the ones whose names were not written in
the book of life. Those are the ones who lived in terror and shuttered at this event, not
Christians. Why? They are those, whose names were recorded in the book of life, those
are the saved. Philippians 4:3, Paul said, “along with Clement, and all the others who
had their names written in the book of life.” To go to heaven you must have your name
in God's divine record of the saved in the book of life. Scriptures teach that Revelation
13:8, Revelation 17:8, Philippians 4:3, and Revelation 3:4-5.
If that's the case, then those in the church are the ones who have their names
registered in heaven. In Hebrews 12:22-23 the Bible says, “But you will come to Mount
Zion to the city of the living God, to the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable
company of angels, to the general assembly, and church of the firstborn who are
registered in heaven to God, the judge of all to the spirits of just men made perfect.”
What do I know about the church? You've got to have your name written in God's book
of life to be saved. Those in the church of the firstborn or Jesus Christ, Colossians
1:15-18, are the ones who have their names registered in heaven.
We understand this in everyday life. Let's say for example that your family is
going on a vacation, and you're going to some city. A couple of weeks or a month in
advance you call, and make reservations at the Holiday Inn. You give them your credit
card, they write your name down, and you’ve got a room reserved for a certain date.
What happens when you get to that motel? You walk up to the front desk, you tell the
clerk you have a set of rooms reserved and you give them your name, and they've got
your reservation. You’ve got to have your name written in the book of life, those in the
church of the firstborn are the ones who are registered, they're the ones who have their
name written in the book of life, and they're the ones who are registered in heaven.
Therefore the church is indeed essential to salvation.
If Christ is the head of the church, and He is, Ephesians 1:22-23, He is the head
of the church, which is His body, the firstborn over all things from the dead. If Christ is
the head of the church, and if the church is the body Colossians 3:15, “You were called
into one body, and be ye thankful.” Ephesians 1:22-23, “He is the head of the body,
which is the church.” “There is but one body,” Ephesians 4:4. Christ is the head, the
church is the body; there's just one body. To say Christ, not the church is to actually
separate the spiritual head and body of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Is the church
essential? Is the head being attached to a body essential? A body cannot function
without a head; a head had cannot function without a body. If one were separated from
the other it’d be of no use. Are both essential? Absolutely. That's why Paul said in Acts
20:28 “Shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” If the two
are uniquely tied together as a head and a body are, and if Jesus’ own blood purchased
the church how can one conclude the church is not essential? That conclusion cannot
be reached from Scripture.
That conclusion is often based on a mentality that doesn't want guidelines and
rules; somebody who's going to watch out watch over somebody else's soul and
accountability. It’s often not aligning one's will with the will of Almighty God. Is the
church essential to salvation? You can see that in God's plan to save. The Bible
teaches that Christ came to save the lost, Luke 19:10, “Jesus came to seek and to save
the lost.” John 1:29, “As John saw Jesus approaching, He said, ‘Behold! The Lamb of
God who takes away the sin of the world!’” “You'll call His name Jesus, He will save His
people from their sins,” Matthew 1:19-21. Christ came to save lost; the saved are in the
church, Ephesians 5:25, He has created that body, that is purified, sanctified, and the
saved are in the body of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Christ came to save the church, the body is the saved therefore one must be in
the body to be saved. Sometimes, in the religious world, we act like these are two
separate events. One is saved, and then one joins the church later. In scripture that's
not how it happens. Did you know that being saved and being added to the church
happen at the same moment? Acts 2:38, Peter preaches the word, “Repent and be
baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.” Acts 2:41-47, “those who gladly received his
word were baptized, and the Lord added to the church daily those who are being
saved.” When one obeys the gospel and submits to Jesus Christ, hears about Christ
and His church, when he obeys that gospel, he's automatically added to the church of
the Lord Jesus Christ. God's plan of salvation uniquely ties into the church of the Lord
The church is also essential to salvation, because if salvation is in Christ, and
when one gets in Christ he gets in the church you can't separate those two ideas.
Salvation is indeed in Christ. 2 Timothy 1:10, Paul said that we are to ‘give glory God for
the salvation that is found in Christ Jesus.’ That salvation is in Christ. Galatians 3:27
says, “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with
Christ.” Salvation is in Christ, when I'm baptized I'm baptized into Christ. When I'm
baptized what am I baptized into? 1 Corinthians 12:13, “By one spirit we're all baptized
into one body.” If salvation's in Christ, if being baptized is how I get into Christ, and if at
that same time being baptized is when I'm added to the body, then you cannot separate
the two ideas. Salvation's in the church because when I submit to God, God in heaven
adds my name to the book of life and I'm added as a member of His body. I become a
New Testament Christian, a member of the Lord's church. It indeed is essential to
salvation. I want to be where God's people are supposed to be when Christ comes. I
want to give honor to God in the church that he built. “The glory be to God in the
church,” Ephesians 3:20-21. Consider seriously, in view of your own soul, are you a
member of the Lord's church?
We want you know today that the things we say we say out of kindness and love
and sincerity for lost souls. Must one be a member of the Lord's church to be saved?
The biblical answer is a resounding yes. If you're not we urge you, we plead with you,
we beg you, and won’t you obey the gospel. Let God add you to His church, the church
of Christ, and there live faithfully unto death. You've heard the word, Romans 10:17.
You believe that Jesus is God's son, John 8:24. You'd be willing to repent of sin and
confess his name before men, Luke 13:3, Romans 10:10. Would you be immersed in
water so that the Lord can add you to his church, Acts 2:38, 1 Corinthians 12:13?
Let God bless us as we strive to be members of the one body of the Lord and
Savior Jesus Christ.
Study Questions for: “The Church of Christ: Essential for Salvation”
1. Who is the head of the church according to Ephesians 1:22-23?
2. What did Paul encourage the elders to do in Acts 20:28?
3. What comparison did Paul make to a husband’s love in Ephesians 2:25?
4. What happened to the ‘blind’ leaders in Matthew 15:13?
5. What must we diligently do according to Hebrews 11:6?
6. According to Luke 13:3, what happens if we don’t repent?
7. Who did it say was added to the church in Acts 2:47?
8. According to 1 Corinthians 15:24, what will Jesus deliver to God?
9. Why did Jesus come according to Luke 19:10?
10. According to Acts 2:41-47, what did the people do that gladly received the Word?