And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 17, Number
In this issue:
"Must One be a Member of the Church of Christ to be Saved?"
Joe R. Price
This question was asked of me by email this week. It is a good Bible question that deserves a Bible answer, free of prejudice and the wisdom of men. “What does the Scripture say?” (Rom. 4:3)
One could just as easily ask, “Is one lost if he is not a member of the church that belongs to Christ?” as to ask, “Must one be a member of the church of Christ to be saved?” When we use “church of Christ” here we are not using it in any Protestant denominational sense. There are no denominations in the New Testament. Therefore, we reject them today as unnecessary and without Christ’s approval (Matt. 28:18-20; Col. 3:17; Gal. 1:8-10). If you think of the church of Christ as a denomination, then you are mistaken, and you will misunderstand the Bible answer given here.
The expression “church of Christ” means what it means in the New Testament, namely, “the church that belongs to Christ”. It is a statement of possession or ownership, reflecting the relation that exists between Christ and the church. Jesus built the church; it is His (Matt. 16:18). He purchased His church with His blood (Acts 20:28). He is the Head of His church and it is His body (Eph. 1:22-23). There is one body that belongs to Christ, and He is the Savior of the body, His church (Eph. 4:4; 5:23).
When a sinner hears, believes and obeys the gospel of Christ his sins are remitted (forgiven, blotted out, washed away) – he is saved from his sin (Mk. 16:15-16; Acts 2:36-41; 3:19; 22:16). When that happens, the Lord adds that saved person to His church: “And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47).
Thus, in the New Testament, the church of Christ is made up of those who are saved. They have been called out of sin by the gospel and added to the church by the Lord. (The word “church” means the “called out” ones.) These saved people are Christians, disciples of Christ (Acts 11:26).
It is entirely right and Biblical to answer “yes”, one must be a member of the church of Christ to be saved. Saved souls compose the church of Christ. And, Christ saves His body, the church (Eph. 1:22-23; 5:23). Be saved by Christ according to His gospel, and you will be added to the church of Christ (Acts 2:47).
Psalm 2 anticipates the rule of God’s Anointed One – His King and Son (v. 2, 6-7). Although rejected by Gentiles and Jews, God’s purpose prevails and is gloriously fulfilled in Christ, the Son of God (v. 1-9). Thus, the psalmist warns kings and judges that judgment will ensue if they fail to honor and trust the Lord (v. 10-12).
This psalm paints a picture of Christ as King “on My holy hill of Zion” (v. 6). This prophecy of the King reigning has been fulfilled in the resurrection and subsequent exaltation of Jesus at the right hand of God (see Dan. 7:13-14; Eph. 1:22-23). Jesus is ruling as King today. The expectation of a future kingdom on earth distorts the nature of the king and His kingdom, and necessarily rejects the fulfillment of Psalm 2 by the resurrection and ascended exaltation of Jesus. Those who believe this cannot have it both ways: either Jesus is King today (in fulfillment of Psalm 2), or He is not. If He is presently King, then their earthly kingdom expectation is false. If Jesus is not yet ruling as King, then New Testament statements that show Psalm 2 has been fulfilled are false.
1) If Psalm 2 has not been fulfilled, then salvation from sin is not available. Yet, the apostle Paul taught “God has fulfilled” His Abrahamic promise in the resurrection of Jesus, and cites Psalm 2:7 to prove it: “You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.” If Jesus is not reigning as King on God’s holy hill of Zion, then we have no redemption from sin. Yet, mercy abounds to Jews and Gentiles in Jesus Christ because He was raised and exalted (Acts 13:32-39). Psalm 2 has been fulfilled; Forgiveness of sins is available (13:38).
2) If Psalm 2 has not been fulfilled, then Christ is no higher than the angels. Yet, Hebrews 1:5 affirms that God said to Jesus, “You are My Son, Today I have begotten You” (Psa. 2:7). Christ is indeed superior to the angels. The Son’s present exaltation at God’s right hand shows it to be so. Psalm 2 has been fulfilled; “Today” Jesus is exalted as the Son of God and reigning in heaven.
3) If Psalm 2 has not been fulfilled, then there is no High Priest serving over God’s house. Without a High Priest, there has been no offering has been presented to God for our sins (Heb. 5:1; 8:1-3; 9:11-12). Yet, Jesus is our High Priest, and Hebrews 5:5 quotes Psalm 2:7 to affirm this great truth. Psalm 2 has been fulfilled; Jesus is High Priest in heaven; a priest on His throne (fulfilling Zechariah 6:12-13).
God has set His King on His holy hill of Zion (Psa. 2:6-7). Christ’s kingdom is His church (Matt. 16:18-19; Heb. 12:22-23). To reject the King will bring God’s anger upon you. Instead, trust Him and be blessed: “Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling” (Psa. 2:11-12).
Scripture Reading: Philippians 2:12-18
1. The church belongs to Christ, Matt. 16: 18.
I. IS THIS CHURCH MY CHURCH OR THE CHURCH OF CHRIST?
A1. “I Sacrifice My Time for this Church... It’s ‘My Church’”. Eph. 5:16; Gal. 6:3
A2. Sacrifice Your Time Out of Devotion to Christ and Christ’s Church, Acts 6:1-6; Phil. 2:19-23.
B1. “I Sacrifice My Effort for this Church... It’s ‘My Church’”. Rom. 12:3-8 (16); Eph. 4:15-16; cf. 1 Pet. 5:2-3; Phil. 1:15-16
B2. We have a Duty to Give Our Effort for the Good of Christ’s Church, Luke 17:10; Acts 20:18-20, 31; cf. 1 Cor. 9:16; Rom. 16:1-4.
C1. “I Sacrifice My Money for this Church... It’s ‘My Church’”. 1 Cor. 16:1-2; Acts 4:34-35; 1 Tim. 6:17; Jas. 2:1-6
C2. Our Faith Should Compel Our Generous Giving to Help Christ’s Church, Acts 4:36-5:4; 2 Cor. 8:1-5; Mk. 12:43-44; 2 Cor. 9:6-11.
Scripture Reading:Psalm 17:1-9
1. We are commanded to “put off all these: anger, wrath, malice...”, Col.
3:8; Eph. 4:31.
I. LOSING CONTROL OF OUR TEMPER IS SIN, Eph. 4:31; Jas. 1:19-20.
Outbursts of Wrath, Gal. 5:20; Prov. 14:29; Eph. 4:31; Col. 3:8.
II. HOW DO WE OVERCOME OUTBURSTS OF WRATH?
Meditate on God and His Word, Psa. 4:4-5; 1:2-3 (119:97, 11).
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
If Jesus Lived in Scotland
According to Episcopal priest William
B. Miller, author of The
Beer Drinker’s Guide to God: The Whole and Holy Truth About Lager,
Loving, and Living, if
Jesus lived in Scotland he would drink scotch whiskey. Miller says
“there are all kinds of good gifts that God has entrusted to us that we
can become addicted to so it is important to not throw the baby out with
the bath water, and not to throw the beer out with the baptismal water”
(“‘The Beer Drinker's Guide to God’ book claims to reveal true nature of
in.lifestyle.yahoo.com). On the other hand, the Bible says something
very different from this self-serving, unholy view of God.