Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 10, 1955

The Necessity Of The Church

Arthur W. Atkinson, Jr., Dayton, Ohio

In this day and age we find many people who belittle the church that Christ established by such statements as "one church is as good as another," "the church doesn't save," and "you can be saved outside of the church."

All people on the earth can be described as being divided into two classes: those in the church and those not in the church, thus in the world. One must be in one or the other. If one can be saved outside of the church then that means he can be saved in the world. Yet Paul declares this is not possible, "That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world." (Eph. 2:12.) Those who were in the world were without God, having no hope, strangers, aliens and without Christ. There is no intermediate place; and salvation is not found in the world.

Moral Goodness

Some think they can be saved without the church because of their moral goodness. Moral goodness, however, is not all that is required of us to reach heaven. The writer of Hebrews declares that Christ is the author of eternal salvation "unto all them that obey him." (Heb. 5:9.) Moral goodness without accompanying acts of obedience to Christ's commandments cannot bring salvation. Cornelius (Acts 10) was a morally good man. He was a religious man and one who prayed often to God and gave much alms to the people. Yet he had to obey the divine commandments of God before he was acceptable unto Him.


There are many who base their hope of salvation on being members of man-originated churches (known as denominations). Denominationalism had its origin outside of the scriptures. Division is severely condemned by Paul who spoke by inspiration. " Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment." (1 Cor. 1:10.) Our Lord prayed for the unity of his followers on the eve of his betrayal, "neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, are in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me." This unity is possible only through following the Bible, and it alone. Paul states that there is "one body." (Eph. 4:4.) If this verse be true, then it cannot be true that there are 256 or more other religious bodies acceptable unto God. Man has made the error in starting all these bodies which are contrary to the scripture. Denominations are not necessary to the salvation of the soul; the Lord's church is necessary, as we shall further note.

Church Does Not Save?

In an attempt to belittle the church many people make the statement that "the church doesn't save, but Christ does." This is most certainly true and no one well versed in the scriptures would disagree with it. However, the most important question is, whom will Christ save? Does he promise to save those in the church, or those out of the church?

Salvation is in Christ. Yet many people do not realize that to be in Christ is to be in the church; and to be in the church is to be in Christ. It is impossible to be in the one without being in the other. One enters into Christ the same way he enters into his body, the church. "For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ." (Gal. 3:27.) "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body . . . ." (1 Cor. 12:13.) This "one body" is the church, as we learn in Ephesians 1:22, 23, "And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all." To be in Christ is to be in the church; we enter both in the same way and by the same action. Since this is true we must conclude that those blessings which are found in Christ are of necessity found in the church. Not to be a member of that church is to be out of Christ, and apart from those blessings. Let us notice what some of them are.

All Spiritual Blessings

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ." (Eph. 1:3.) There is not one spiritual blessing that can be received separate and apart from the church. Eternal life is a spiritual blessing. Do you want to live eternally? Certainly we all do. To receive this blessing one must be converted to Christ, must be baptized into his body, his church. When a man preaches that the church is not necessary, he is preaching a Christ-dishonoring doctrine.

"In whom (Christ) we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace." (Eph. 1:7.) Man fell from the grace of God; he must be redeemed if he is ever to enjoy peace with God again. This redemption is found in Christ; it is made possible through his blood. Paul told the Ephesian elders, "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he purchased with his own blood." (Acts 20:28.) Here is our answer. The church is that group purchased or redeemed through the blood of Christ. If you are not a member of that church, you have never been redeemed. Man cannot be saved without redemption, and this redemption takes place in Christ and the church through Ms blood.

Is The Church Worthless?

Stop and consider, dear friend, that in dishonoring the church you are dishonoring Christ, for he died on Golgotha's brow that the church might exist. If men can be saved out of the church, then Christ died to establish a worthless institution. The honest and sincere reader knows that this is not true. Let us therefore give the church the proper place in our thinking and in our teaching. We come in contact with the blood of Christ in his body, his church, reap all spiritual blessings prepared for us by being in it, remaining faithful to our Lord in it, and dying in it. There is no hope outside of it.