It is amazing how varied the views are that people have of the church. It is downright offensive to some individuals if it is suggested that the church is an integral part of one’s salvation. Some cannot even fathom that their eternal dwelling in heaven would have any connection at all to the church, which is often viewed as a religious club or organization that serves some limited purposes on this earth but is not essential to one’s entrance into heaven.
Rather than examine all of the views that various folks have regarding the essentiality of the church, let us turn our attention to God’s Word. The church was eternally purposed in the mind of God (Ephesians 3:10-11) — that must mean that it has a significant purpose in the mind of God. The church was personally promised and purchased by the Son of God (Matthew 16:18; Acts 20:28) — that must mean that it has a significant purpose in the mind of Christ. But, does the church have anything to do with me going to heaven?
Let us answer this question by asking another question: Does being “saved” have anything to do with me going to heaven? Do I have to be “saved” in order to go to heaven?
The Scripture teaches plainly that “there shall by no means to enter [heaven] anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.” (Revelation 21:27) Only those who are saved from the defilement of sin and written in the Book of Life shall enter heaven. What does that have to do with the church?
The Scripture teaches plainly that those who are “saved” are “added” by “the Lord” “to the church.” (Acts 2:47) When one is baptized (Acts 2:38) for forgiveness of sins (i.e., is “saved”), that person becomes a part of the church immediately. They are “added,” by God (Acts 2:41), when they are “baptized into” the body (1 Corinthians 12:13), which is the church. (Ephesians 1:22-23) It is impossible to be saved and to not be in the Lord’s church. God places His saved into His church.
The Scripture teaches plainly that only those in the church are saved. Where does it make such a claim as that? The inspired penman wrote, “Christ … is the Savior of the body.” (Ephesians 5:23) Obviously, Jesus is the Savior of the saved, but this passage affirms that Christ is the Savior of the “body,” which is the church. (Ephesians 1:22-23) Therefore, one must be in the church (the body), in order to be saved by Jesus Christ. It is impossible to be saved and to not be in the Lord’s church. God saves His saved in His church.
One cannot go to heaven without being saved. One cannot be saved without being in the Lord’s church. Therefore, one cannot go to heaven without being in His church.