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Can one be saved without belonging to a church?

Kalamindi, Nyanza, Kenya church of Christ
Kalamindi, Nyanza, Kenya church of Christ
Personal file photo

There are various attitudes taken by people concerning membership in a church. Some even have made slogans such as, “Jesus, yes…church, no.” And others will take the same approach and tell you quickly that you do not have to be a member of a church to be saved. First of all, their thoughts are accurate, when they have man made church organizations in mind. However, their understanding of the scriptures is horribly inaccurate.

There is no similarity in man made club-like organizations which are called churches, to that of the spiritual body of Jesus Christ which he called, “My church”. (Matthew 16:18 KJV)

Can it not be understood that Jesus is here referring to a spiritual kingdom to be his “called out”? Those called out by the scriptures to be subjects of his spiritual body or church? When he made this remark, there were no Christians or churches whatsoever. He and the others were either Jews or gentiles, and some of the gentiles had become proselytes into the Jewish religion. Otherwise, they were worshipping false gods.

Now, we have to understand when and where the Lord’s church, or kingdom, became established and also learn what it WAS. Jesus told several parables to his disciples concerning the coming of his kingdom (church) and he also explained to his apostles how it would come and that it would be very soon after his death. Read (Matthew 16:13-20), (John 14:16, John 14:26, John 15:26, John 16:7) (Acts 1:4-8).

Then in the very next chapter, Acts 2, is recorded the coming of the Holy Spirit (the comforter promised them) who entered into them and gave them miraculous powers and understanding. Read the chapter…you’ll see that before the day was over, more than 3,000 souls had submitted themselves to repent and confess Jesus, and then were baptized into Christ…the beginning of his church or kingdom. And it adds: “and the Lord added to the church daily, such as should be saved.”

One can see, if he removes his preconceived ideas of the term ‘church’, that he has no choice in the matter. If we accept Jesus in the manner specified, we have no choice about whether or not to accept his church. Once you obey the initial requirements required by him, he will add you to his church…his spiritual kingdom. That is plain and simple of his acceptance of your penitent obedience. It is not a religious denomination started by some man or men, but the spiritual kingdom of God which was begun on the first Pentecost after Jesus’ resurrection from the grave.

No, it is not one, or more, of the 33,380 denominations (according to Adherents.com) which have been created by men since the original church, or kingdom, of Jesus Christ was established on that great Pentecostal day in A.D. 32. You have to keep in mind that you will not find its headquarters here on earth…it does not exist here. It is in heaven. There is no head man president, pope or what have you. It’s king is Jesus Christ himself and he is ruling on his throne today.

But now, those who would say “Jesus yes, church no”, are missing the point. If you are an acceptable follower of Jesus, you are in his kingdom, or his church (the terms are used interchangeably in the New Testament) and you are required to accept that, teach it to others, attend worship services with other like-minded Christians. And to live a Christian’s life as described in the Holy Scriptures. And if you say “church, no” to that, then you will not be in it and will be rejected of God for it.