Shelby G. Floyd
We commonly hear religious people say that it doesn’t make any difference whether you are a member of the church or not, that you can be a Christian outside of the church, and therefore you can be saved without the church. They will say that you do not need to be a member of any church to be saved. Can one be saved outside the church? Our question must be answered by the Bible.
Is Salvation Possible Outside of the Church?
God has always circumscribed his blessings within a certain sphere. Those who are without that sphere are without the blessings that God has placed within that particular place. For instance, God placed salvation from the flood within the ark. Those who failed to hear the preaching of Noah and enter the ark were lost. Those, who by faith did believe Noah, entered into the ark of safety, and were saved from the flood. Peter made mention of this fact, and used it by way of illustration, when he said, “who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3: 20-21 NKJV).
Eight People Were Saved in the Ark
God was longsuffering while the ark was being prepared; but very few entered into the ark. Only eight souls were saved in the ark and by the water. That was a figure of how people are saved today. God not only tells us by whom we are saved, but he tells us by what we are saved, and where we are saved. The Bible teaches us that we are saved by Christ, which is the “who.” For instance, Paul says, “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5: 9). The apostle further says, “Therefore endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory” (2 Timothy 2: 10).
Paul was willing to endure, suffer and sacrifice all things for the elect’s sakes—those are the ones that are saved—that they may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus. Where is salvation? It’s in Christ Jesus. Moreover, there is no salvation in any other, “This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4: 12). This adds up that God has appointed us to be saved through our Lord Jesus Christ, that salvation is in Christ Jesus, and one can’t be saved by any other name.
All Spiritual Blessings Are in Christ
In the Ephesian letter, we read, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1: 3). God has blessed us with all spiritual blessings, but where are they? They are in heavenly places, but they are also in Christ. Therefore, to obtain the spiritual blessings which are in heaven, we must find them in Christ. What are some of these spiritual blessings in Christ? Redemption is in Christ, “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3: 24). Forgiveness is in Christ, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7). To be a new creature, one must be in Christ: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5: 17). Many other things could be mentioned, but these are sufficient to illustrate that all spiritual blessings are in Christ Jesus. What does it mean to be in Christ? It means that we must be in his spiritual body, the church.
The Saved Are in the Body—the Church
To the Ephesians, the apostle Paul says, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body” (Ephesians 5: 22-23 NKJV). That passage affirms that Christ is the head of the church, and, also the savior of the body. If Christ is the savior of the body, can anyone be saved outside of that body? What is that body of which Christ is said to be the savior? In the same letter, Paul states, “And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way” (Ephesians 1: 22-23). Christ is the head over all things to the church. What is the church? It is his body. Christ is the savior of the body; therefore, he is the savior of the church,
Can anyone be saved outside of the church? No one can unless the Lord will save someone outside of the body. Nowhere, does the Bible teach, either by precept or example that Christ saves anyone outside the body. He is the savior of the church which is body (Ephesians 1:22-23); the body is the church (Colossians 1:24). The church is his body; therefore, we must be in the body, the church, to be saved. In the book of Acts we find that the Lord saved people in the church which is his body. Luke says that the people were continually, “praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2: 47 KJV). Now, if the Lord added those who were saved to the church, that means they were in the church; therefore, if a person is saved, he must be in the church, because the Lord adds such to the church.
One Is Baptized Into Christ and His Body
This brings us back to the question then; can a person be saved outside the church? Not unless the Lord has stopped adding the saved to the church. Since the Lord added those who were saved to his church, then if you are saved, you are in the church, and if you are in the church the Lord will save the body. Therefore, you can’t be saved outside the church. And the way we enter the body of Christ—the church, is the same way we enter Christ. One is baptized into Christ. “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ” (Galatians 3:26-27). The same act of baptism at the same time also inducts one into the church—the body of Christ. “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink” (1 Corinthians 12:12-13).
Everyone should renounce sin, and be baptized into Christ and his spiritual body—the church. But make sure your baptism is predicated on your faith, repentance and confession that Jesus is the Christ—the Son of God (Romans 10:9-17). Amen.
Copyright © 2014 Shelby G. Floyd All Rights Reserved
Shelby G. Floyd