By Larry Ray Hafley
Some denominations teach that one may be saved from his sins without being a member of any church. Does the Bible teach this doctrine? Can one be saved before he becomes a member of the New Testament church? In this article, we shall notice one scriptural argument to show that one is not saved, not reconciled unto God, unless he is a member of the church of the Lord.
In Ephesians 2:11-22, Paul discusses the salvation of the Jews and Gentiles. He describes their common unity and salvation “by the blood of Christ.” He teaches in verses 14-16 that there is now no distinction or difference between Jew and Gentile, for Christ has broken down the barrier of alienation and separation. By his death, Christ made the two (Jew and Gentile) “one new man” (v. 15).
Question: “What is the purpose of this peace, of this oneness?” Answer: “And that (Here is the purpose.) he might reconcile both (Jew and Gentile) unto God in one body” (v. 16). The remainder of the passage shows how this unity was accomplished; “by the cross,” Christ united or reconciled Jew and Gentile in one body. Observe, please, where this reconciliation unto God is effected. They are reconciled unto God (Where?) “in one body” (v. 16). If one is not in the one body, he is not reconciled unto God since Christ brings men unto God “in one body.”
Next, then, we must determine what this “one body” is. In Eph. I :22, 23, Paul says it is “the church, which is his body,” and in Col. 1:18 he writes that Christ “is the head of the body, the church.” The church is the body; the body is the church, and “There is one body” (Eph. 4:4). Conclusion: The one body is the church. One is “reconciled unto God in one body.” If one is not in the one body, the church, he is not saved, not reconciled unto God.
Truth Magazine, XVIII:20, p. 13
March 21, 1974