SOURCE: Wade Webster, The Searcher, March 23, 2008
Will Only Those In The Church of Christ Be Saved?
by Wade Webster
From one standpoint, this is a very easy question to answer. After all, the New Testament gives a simple and straightforward answer to it. However, from another standpoint, this is a very difficult question to answer. The question is difficult because many are not prepared to accept the answer. The singular answer of Scripture is simply too narrow for many (Matthew 7:13-14). In this study, we want to try to develop the matter in a way that is clear and easy to understand.
First, let’s consider the case of Noah, the flood, and the ark.
You will remember that because of man’s wickedness, God decided to destroy man with a worldwide flood (Genesis 6:5-7). Unlike the wicked people around him, Noah was a righteous man who “found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Genesis 6:8). Having found grace, Noah was given specific directions for building the ark that would be used in saving him and his family (Genesis 6:14-21). As a righteous man, he followed the directions of God and built the ark according to God’s pattern (Genesis 6:22). When the ark was completed, according to God’s commandment, Noah and his family entered the ark (Genesis 7:1-10). At the appointed time, the rains poured down and the springs gushed forth until the earth was covered with water. The eight souls in the ark were saved (1 Peter 3:20), while the countless souls outside of the ark perished (Genesis 7:21-23). Generally, individuals have no trouble seeing that only those in the ark were saved.
Second, let’s consider the children of Israel, the destroyer, and the doorposts covered with blood.
You will remember that because of the cry of His people, God sent Moses to Pharaoh to command him to let His people go (Exodus 4:21-23). Ten plagues in all were brought upon Pharaoh before he would let God’s people leave Egypt. The final plague, and the most severe of all, was the visitation of the destroyer upon all the first-born of Egypt (Exodus 11:1, 5). Only those who put the blood of a spotless lamb upon the doorposts of their houses were spared from this terrible plague (Exodus 12:3-13). Those who did not have this blood upon their doorposts lost their first-born (Exodus 12:29-30). Again, individuals generally have no trouble seeing that only those who had blood upon their doorposts were spared from this plague.
Third, let’s consider Christ, the one body, and the blood.
We know that Christ came to redeem us from sin by shedding His blood for our sins (Titus 2:14; Matthew 26:28). We know that it was with this same precious blood that He purchased the church. Paul wrote, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood” (Acts 20:28). A similar statement is found in the book of Ephesians. In describing the church under the figure of a bride, Paul said that Christ gave “Himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25). He would also say that it is over this bride, the church, that Christ reigns as head and savior (Ephesians 5:23, 25). Under another figure, Paul described the church as the body of Christ. he wrote, “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all” (Ephesians 1:22-23). Later, in the book of Ephesians, he was directed to write that there is but “one body” (Ephesians 4:4). Since it is true that there is only “one body” (Ephesians 4:4) and the body is the same as the church (Ephesians 1:22-23), it follows that there is only one church. This conclusion is consistent with everything that we read about the church in the New Testament. For example, Christ used a singular word and not a plural word when promising to build the church. he said, “I will build my church…” (Matthew 16:18). After having noticed all of these Scriptures, there can be no disputing that the church belongs to Christ because He purchased the church with His own blood. Likewise, there can be no disputing that Christ is the savior of His body, the church. Thus, it is clear that those who are in the body or the church which Christ built and bought will be saved and those who are outside of it will be lost. Sadly, individuals have more trouble seeing this than the truths noted earlier relative to the ark and the blood upon the doorposts.
It is amazing that many who see the singularity of salvation in previous dispensations, miss it in the present dispensation. They see that only those in the ark in Noah’s day were saved and that only those who had blood upon their doorposts were spared in Moses’ day. However, they stumble over the fact that only those who are in the church will be saved in our day. Let’s lovingly (Ephesians 4:15), meekly (1 Peter 3:15), and fearfully (1 Peter 3:15) try to help them see this truth.