Letter to the Editor:
GOD'S MESSAGE, November 2008, p.4
THE BIBLE IS CRYSTAL CLEAR about salvation as a free gift from God. In Genesis 1:27-31, the Bible says that it was God Himself who created man in His own image. But because man had sinned (Gen. 3:8), his fellowship or relationship with God was destroyed (Isa. 59:1, 2). The apostle Paul says that the "wages of sin is death" (Rom. 6:23) and that "all have sinned" (Rom. 3:23), in other words, because of sin we were separated from God and deserve to die or be punished eternally in the lake of fire (Rev. 20:14).
But there is hope. God loved us so much that "he gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). Thus, Jesus bore our curse (Gal. 3:13) and experienced death for us (Heb. 2:8-9)—He was the one who took the penalty of our sins (II Cor. 5:21). When we receive Jesus as a personal savior we are no longer condemned as written in Romans 8:1 which says "there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus . . . . . " Therefore, because of the grace of God we are saved and not by being member of any church (Eph. 2:8), let alone your church.
We couldn't agree more with what you pointed out from the Bible that if it were not for God's love that was manifested through His sending of His Son Jesus Christ, we would all be doomed to suffer eternal punishment in the lake of fire for the sins each of us committed. Salvation is certainly an act of God's grace, but this doesn't mean that we should just dismiss membership in the Church of Christ or regard it as irrelevant or unnecessary.
While we do need to believe Jesus Christ and acknowledge Him as Savior to receive God's grace of salvation (Eph. 2:8; John 3:16), we should also make sure that we are among those whom Christ considers as His sheep. Christ said:
"But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me." (John 10:26-27, New King James Version)
There is a big difference between the true believers of Christ and those who merely profess belief or faith in Him. Christ's true believers are those counted by Him as His sheep who hear His voice. Thus, to become a true believer of Christ, one ought to heed His call to enter Him, inasmuch as He is the "door of the sheepfold" and He invites anyone who wants to be saved to come into the fold through Him (John 10:9, Revised English Bible). This fold or flock, which is what He redeemed with His blood, is the Church of Christ (Acts 20-.2S, Lamsa TransIation).
In fact, those referred to in Romans 8:1—the people "who are in Christ", and as such, are no longer condemned—are also the members of the Church of Christ. Apostle Paul| for explicates that to be "in Christ" is to be "members in one body" (Rom. 12:4-5), that "one body" being Christ body or "the Church" headed by Him (Col. 1:18) which is called by the apostles as the Church of Christ (Acts 20:.28, Lamsa Translation).
It is therefore the curse of the Church of Christ members which Jesus bore (Gal. 3:13), and it is for them that He experienced death (Heb. 2:8-9). It is for them that He was made sin (II Cor. 5:21), which means that He took the penalty for their sins, not for the sins of those who just claim to have faith in Christ without entering His flock or Church.
So, there are things that need to be done for one to partake of God's grace of salvation through Christ; and, becoming a member of the true Church of Christ (not just any church) is one of them. We can never discount the significance of membership in the Church of Christ to man's salvation because it is for the Church that God's "master plan" of salvation through Jesus Christ is intended (Eph. 3:21, Living Bible)
There is a lot more to having faith in Christ than just proclaiming to accept Him as Savior. To publicly confess acceptance of Him, while at the same time discounting the relevance of being part of His body or member of His Church, is not only a gross oversimplification of the truth concerning God's grace of salvation but also an affront to Christ who "loved the church and gave his life for it" (Eph, 5:25, Today's English Version)
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