IS The Church Essential To Salvation?

by Garland M. Robinson

        The Lord's church -- the eternal kingdom -- was prophesied of in the Old Testament. We read about it in Isaiah 2:2-4, Micah 4:1-4 and many other passages. In Daniel 2:44 we read, "...the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever." The church, therefore, was/is the plan and purpose of God.
        Jesus himself promised to build it. "...Upon this rock I will build my church..." (Matthew 16:18). He died in order to purchase it with his own blood (Acts 20:28). It was established on the first Pentecost after his resurrection as prophesied (Joel 2:28-32; Acts 2).
        The church of Christ is very much a part of God's plan (Ephesians 3:1-11). Can we say that it does not matter? Can we say it's not essential to salvation? If the church does not matter, then salvation does not matter. Obviously, we are not talking about a physical structure. We are talking about the spiritual body of Christ which is made up of individual congregations that meet in various locations around the world.
        The saved are in the church because that is where God put them. Regarding the 3,000 that repented and were baptized for the forgiveness of sins in Acts 2:38-47 we read that the Lord added them to the church (vs.41,47). First Corinthians 12:13 says the same thing concerning baptism and the church, "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body...." The body is the church (Ephesians 1:22-23).
        Christ will save only his church/body. "For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body" (Ephesians 5:23). There is no scripture anywhere that says he will save anything but his body, the church. Therefore, the church is essential to salvation, for without the church there is no salvation! It is the body of the Lord! Those who are IN the church/body will be saved and those who are OUTSIDE the church/body will be lost. It's that simple!
        Friend, don't you want to be IN the church, the spiritual body of the Lord, where the saved are? There is only ONE WAY to get INTO the church and that is by water baptism (I Corinthians 12:13). Baptism puts one INTO Christ and INTO his church -- the body of the saved (Romans 6:4; Galatians 3:27). Will you obey?