What The Church Is
It is evident to thinking Bible students, that much of the religious error of the modern day would be righted, if a proper understanding was had of this question. It is not hard to find out what the New Testament has to say concerning this important question. And had it not been for the help of supposed learned men, the issue had never been clouded and mystified in the minds of so many people.
The mission of Christ to this earth was not that he might establish, and become the head of the church. It was not primarily for the purpose of becoming a king of a spiritual kingdom, or that he might have all things put under him, and made the head over all things to the church. (Eph. 1:20-23) It is true that he did all of these, and we dare not attempt to deny. But the Lord himself affirmed: "For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." (Lu. 19:10) So his purpose, or mission here below was to save that which was lost.
In order to accomplish this mission he died on Calvary's cross, and shed his blood for man's salvation. He had in mind the salvation of lost, fallen man. For we are told that the blood of animals of various kinds which had been sacrificed from the beginning of time could never take away sins. (Heb. 10:4) But following that statement, we read: "By the which will (of Christ) we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." And again, "How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" (Heb. 10:10; 9:14) And we know that redemption is given through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins. (Eph. 1:7) We must conclude from these and other passages that it is impossible to be forgiven other than through the blood of Christ.
But someone may ask: "What does this have to do with the church?" In answer to this, we first ask another: "How did the church come to exist?' When this is answered we shall know just what the church is. This is easy to prove when we read another quotation: "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Spirit hath made you overseers, to feed the church of the Lord, which he hath purchased with his own blood." (Acts 20:28) That he paid his blood for the purchase of his church, or to cause the church to be, is hereby stated very plainly. But we proved above that; he gave his blood for the redemption of the sins of man. Thus, his blood shed means salvation to man, also the same meant the bringing into existence His church. So we can see that those who are saved through his blood, are the same as those who compose the church.
To get at the same conclusion from a little different approach, we remember that Luke writes in Acts 2:47, that the Lord added to the church daily such as should be (were saved) saved. And also the apostle Paul states that the Christ is the saviour of the body and the body is the church. (Eph. 1:22, 23; 5:23) That is, he saves those who compose the church. But he saves by means of his blood, and since he bought the church with his blood, those in the church and they only are to be among the saved For anyone to teach that the church is non-essential to our salvation, is to assume the possibility of our being saved outside of, and apart from that precious blood that brought it into being. DO we believe?
When exponents of erroneous doctrines endeavor to teach that there is a "visible' church, and an "invisible" church, a distinction is made which has no foundation in God's word. This gives an excuse to circumvent the force of scriptural teaching that the saved of earth compose the New Testament church by their asserting that one may be saved, become a Christian, and later join the "visible" church of their choice. This is another try at getting these various sects of man a place of respect in the sight of honest, and truth seeking people. But we know it is the height of folly to suppose that one can be saved outside of, or apart from the blood of Christ. And since, above proved, the blood of Christ was shed to save his body, the church, it is a logical, and scriptural conclusion, that the saved compose the church. It is true, and they admit it, that all the world can be saved and not "join' any denominational body on earth, but it isn't scripturally true that one can be saved, and not be in, or a member of, the body of Christ.