Frequently we hear radio and TV evangelists encouraging people to “Join the church of your choice” and to “Attend the church of your choice.” Protestant preachers often make the statement that “one church is a good as another.” Certainly, as free moral agents, we have the right and freedom to affiliate ourselves with the religious organization of our choice. But, does God’s Word encourage a person in this matter, that is, to “Join the church of your choice”?
In the book of Ephesians 4:4, Paul teaches that “There is one body….” That declaration is so clear that one should have no problem in understanding it. Regardless of what the body is, the fact is evident that there is “one body”. To further substantiate this great truth, please observe the writing of Paul in I Corinthians 12:12,20: “For as the body is one, and has many members, and all the members of the body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ.” “But now they are many members, but one body.” Christ is the head of the body explains Paul in Colossians 1:18. There is but one head over the body. A plurality of heads would make for a freakish situation. We must understand there is not one head in heaven and another one on earth.
The question arises, what is the one body? Please permit Paul to answer that question by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit: “And he (Christ) is the head of the body, the church…” (Colossians 1:18). Again, “And he (God) put all things in subjection under His (Christ) feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that fills all in all” (Ephesians 1:22,23). These two passages clearly teach that the body of Christ is His church. Now, turn again to Ephesians 4:4 and read the statement, “There is one body….” There are as many churches of Christ as there are bodies of Christ. If a two-headed body might seem freakish, what would a head with hundreds of bodies appear to be? Since the Bible informs us that the church is the body of Christ, how would it sound to say, “Join the body of your choice”, “Attend the body of your choice”, or, “One body is as good as another”? That makes a difference, doesn’t it?
Does one have to be a member of the church to be saved? Well, let us ask it this way; does one have to be a member of the body of Christ to be saved? Paul taught in Ephesians 5:23 that Christ is “the savior of the body.” So, if we want to be saved, we will need to be in the body of Christ. In I Corinthians 12:13, we learn, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body….” Acts 2:36-38, we learn that believers were instructed by the apostle Peter to “Repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” In Acts 2:47 we read, “the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” Thus, the church (body) of Christ is made up of the saved. The body (church) has for its savior Jesus Christ. When these truths are learned and accepted, it will be understood that one must be in the church (body) of Christ’s choice in order to be saved.