Where is the passage that says one must be a member of the church of Christ to be saved? The apostle Paul wrote: “For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, being himself the savior of the body” (Eph. 5:23). This statement by the inspired apostle is in every properly translated New Testament. Yet, it is generally overlooked and disregarded. Christ is head of the church and savior of the body. There is one body (Eph. 4:4), and that one body is the church (Eph. 1:22, 23). These passages make no mistake about the importance of the church to our salvation. Christ is the savior of the church. Therefore, we must be a part of the church to be saved.
The Church is God’s Family
Paul wrote, “These things write I unto you, hoping to come unto you shortly; but if I tarry long, that you may know how men ought to behave themselves in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:14, 15). The word “house,” as used here, means “family.” Paul is not expressing concern about conduct in a church building; but rather he is speaking of one’s conduct as a member of the family of God. The church is that family.
Christ is a Son over God’s House
He is called by the writer of Hebrews an Apostle, High Priest, and Son over God’s house (Heb. 3:1-6). The Father gave Him to be head over all things to the church (Eph. 1:23). He has all authority in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18).
Reconciliation to God is in the Church
The mystery of the salvation of the Gentiles and their reconciliation unto God was revealed by Paul. How God planned to save the Gentiles was a mystery until it was fully revealed by inspired men. In Eph. 2:11-22, Paul tells how both Gentile and Jew are presently reconciled unto God. “But now in Christ Jesus you that once were far off are made near in the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who made both one, and brake down the middle wall of partition, having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; that he might create in himself on the two one new man, so making peace; and might reconcile them both in one body unto God through the cross, having slain the enmity thereby” (vs. 13-16). Notice that reconciliation to God of both Gentile and Jew is “in one body.” We have already shown that this body is the church.
The church is a Habitation of God
Paul speaks of the “household of God” and calls it a “holy temple” and “a habitation of God” (Eph. 1:19-22). Again, we note that he is not talking about a material building, but those whom he calls “fellow-citizens, the saints.” These are the household of God. They are the church. This is where God dwells.
The Lord Adds Those who are being Saved to the Church
“And the Lord added to them day by day those that were saved” (Acts 2:47, ASV). In the KJV we read, “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” When one repents, is baptized, and receives remission of his sins, he is immediately added by the Lord to the church. The Lord adds people who are being saved to His church, not to the churches of men. Hence, there are no present day, accountable, saved people outside the body (church) of Christ. No not one!