This is our third biblical answer to religious questions, from an upcoming compendium based on a catechism. The compendium asks: “What is the meaning of the affirmation: ‘There is no salvation outside the Church’?”
There are two extremes to avoid here. One, that the church herself saves. The church is composed of those people who, by faith and obedience, have been saved. The church is the saved, not the Savior. The saved are added to the church (Acts 2:40,41). She has no power of her own to save others. She is, on the other hand, God’s instrument to save. It is her mission to proclaim the gospel in order that all people might be saved. Hers is not to merely be a good example and do good works, but to “speak a good word for Jesus,” as Joe Gray put it. Hence, it is appropriate to speak of individual Christians saving others (see 1 Corinthians 7:16; 9:22; 1 Timothy 4:16; James 5:20; Jude 1:23).
The second extreme to avoid is to consider that the church has no relation to salvation. This is the common denominational view. But redemption is in Christ (Romans 3:24), as is eternal life (Romans 6:23), justification (Galatians 2:17), sonship of God (Galatians 3:26), every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3). To be in Christ is equivalent to being in the one body, in the church (Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 1 Thessalonians 2:14). To be baptized into Christ (Romans 6:3; Galatians 3:27) is to be baptized into Christ’s body (1 Corinthians 12:13).
One must also consider, in this question, the nature of the church. For it is not the popular idea of a building, a hierarchy, a conglomeration of denominations and divisions which teach differing doctrines, nor some association which people may call a church. The church was established by Christ (Matthew 16:18); the saints bear his name as Christians (1 Peter 4:16); they follow his lead as the one with all authority (Matthew 28:18); they speak only the gospel of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:2); they carry out his mission of world evangelism (Matthew 28:19,20); they worship according to his instruction (John 4:24).
Is there salvation outside the church? Here’s a biblical answer to this religious question.