Membership in the true Church, that which belongs to our Lord Jesus Christ and to our Lord God, is a necessary condition to be saved and be free from punishment.
HOW MANY TIMES have we heard people say they want to be free from punishment? How many have expressed their desire to be delivered from sin and to win eternal life for themselves, hence, be saved?
Writing to Timothy, a co-worker in the Church Of Christ in the first century, Apostle Paul advised the former, thus:
“Run your best in the race of faith, and win eternal life for yourself; for it was to this life that God called you when you firmly professed your faith before many witnesses.” (I Tim. 6:12 Good News Bible)
And as to how valuable faith or belief is, Jude, another apostle of the Lord, wrote, thus:
“For even though you know all this, I want to remind you of how the Lord once rescued the people of Israel from Egypt, but, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.” (Jude 1:5 GNB)
Contending with the enemy
Throughout the history of God’s people, the devil who is the enemy of the elect has been doing what he is best at which caused Apostle Peter to remind the faithful, thus:
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.” (I Pet. 5:8-9 NKJV)
Certainly, Satan will use every ploy or machination in his hands to deceive the gullible. To safeguard the believers, Apostle Paul warned them, thus:
“The Wicked One will come with the power of Satan and perform all kinds of false miracles and wonders and use every kind of wicked craft on those who will perish. They will perish because they did not welcome and love the truth so as to be saved. And so God sends the power of error to work in them so that they believe what is false. The result is that all who have not believed the truth, but have taken pleasure in sin, will be condemned.” (II Thess. 2:9-12 GNB)
Of course no one in his right mind will admit to having been deceived by Satan. However, the Bible has a way of exposing those who have unfortunately fallen to the wiles of the devil, thus:
“You are doomed! You call evil good and call good evil. You turn darkness into light and light into darkness. You make what is bitter sweet, and what is sweet you make bitter.” (Isa. 5:20 GNB)
Therefore, we can glean from the Bible that those who are deceived by Satan have succumbed to distorting the truth to their own doom, as evidenced by their calling good evil, and vice versa; and turning darkness to light and light to darkness. Hence, they come to believe the opposite of what is right and good. One ought to realize though that the commandment of God is what is right and good (Rom. 7:12).
The truth concerning salvation
Take the issue of salvation. Many believe one can be saved without the benefit of the Church Of Christ. To them, membership in the Church Of Christ is no longer necessary. And that belief in Christ as one’s personal savior is all that is needed to be saved from punishment and win eternal life. They further allege that what is important is one’s relationship with Christ, irrespective of church membership. What do these people who espouse such beliefs fail to realize? They have totally relegated to the background and ignored the significance of Apostle Paul’s message, thus:
“This is a great mystery. (I’m talking about Christ’s relationship to the church.)” (Eph. 5:32 God’s Word)
It is true that Christ is the Savior, but what He is going to save is the Church, which is His body, thus:
“For a husband has authority over his wife just as Christ has authority over the church; and Christ is himself the Savior of the church, his body.” (Eph. 5:23 GNB)
Sadly, a lot of people failed to see this truth.
The Church Of Christ and redemption
But the true believers of Christ ought to believe in what is written, thus:
“So Jesus spoke again: ‘In very truth I tell you, I am the door of the sheepfold… I am the door; anyone who comes into the fold through me will be safe…’” (John 10:7, 9 Revised English Bible)
And the fold or flock that man must come into is the Church Of Christ according to Apostle Paul, thus:
“Take heed therefore to yourselves and to all the flock over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you overseers, to feed the church of Christ which he has purchased with his blood.” (Acts 20:28 Lamsa Translation)
This should silence once and for all the belief that Church membership is no longer necessary. If it were not the true Church Of Christ, yes. But, with the true Church, that which belongs to our Lord Jesus Christ and to our Lord God, membership in it is a necessary condition to be saved and be free from punishment.
Should anyone insist that faith alone is sufficient for salvation, Apostle James replies in no uncertain term, thus:
“My brothers, what good is it for someone to say that he has faith if his actions do not prove it? Can that faith save him? … You see, then, that it is by his actions that a person is put right with God, and not by his faith alone.” (James 2:14, 24 GNB)
Winning the battle
It will do well for the true members of the Church Of Christ to heed the admonition of Apostle Paul, thus:
“Use every piece of God’s armor to resist the enemy in the time of evil, so that after the battle, you will still be standing firm.” (Eph. 6:13 New Living Translation)
So as not to give way to the enemy, with much resolve Apostle Paul advised the Christians further, thus:
“So stand ready, with truth as a belt tight around your waist, with righteousness as your breastplate, and as your shoes the readiness to announce the Good News of peace. At all times carry faith as a shield; for with it you will be able to put out the burning arrows shot by the Evil One. And accept salvation as a helmet, and the word of God as the sword which the Spirit gives you.” (Eph. 6:14-17 GNB)
Asking God’s help through prayers
The heavenward journey is fraught with trials. We, members of the Church Of Christ, God’s people in these last days, are very much aware of this. Nonetheless, in our great desire to be free from punishment or to be saved on Judgment Day, we do our best to safeguard our faith, buoyed by Apostle Paul’s reminder, thus:
“Do all this in prayer, asking for God’s help. ‘Pray on every occasion, as the Spirit leads. For this reason keep alert and never give up; pray always for all God’s people.’” (Eph. 6:18 GNB)
We, likewise, draw inspiration from the prayer of King David, thus:
“I look to the mountains; where will my help come from? My help will come from the LORD, who made the heaven and earth. He will not let you fall; your protector is always awake. … the LORD will guard you; he is by your side to protect you. … the LORD will protect you from all danger; he will keep you safe. He will protect you as you come and go now and forever.” (Ps. 121:1-3, 5, 7–8 GNB)
This article was originally published in the Pasugo: God’s Message magazine.