'As long as I follow God and Jesus Christ'
"TO SAY THE LEAST, the doctrine that membership in the Church of Christ is necessary for salvation is highly problematic. For what about the people to whom it is extremely improbable to preach the doctrines you uphold—like those in very remote tribes or in places where Christianity is illegal? As for me, it's my conviction that as long as I follow God and Jesus Christ I will go to heaven. This is all that matters. I am saved even if I refuse to enter the Church of Christ."
Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
Indeed, as long as we follow God and Jesus Christ, we can hope to go to heaven. However, to say this on one hand while refusing to be a part of the Church of Christ on the other, is an inconsistency, for Jesus Christ, whom God made Savior (Acts 5:31), clearly identified whom He will save:
"I am the door; anyone who comes into the fold through me will be safe."(John 10:9, Revised English Bible)
Clearly, anyone who wants to be saved must enter into the fold through our Lord Jesus Christ. Apostle Paul makes it clear that the fold or flock referred to is the Church of Christ which Christ purchased with His blood:
"Take heed therefore to yourselves and to all the flock over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you over¬seers, to feed the church of Christ which he has purchased with his blood." (Acts 20:28, Lamsa Translation, emphasis ours)
Notice that Jesus Christ invites those who want to be saved to enter not just any church but His Church, the Church of Christ. It is therefore not surprising that it is the members of the Church of Christ—those who heeded Christ's invitation—whom the Bible guarantees of salvation:
"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. "Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave his life for it." (Eph. 5:23, 25, Today's English Version, emphasis ours)
Lest anyone suppose that people outside Christ's fold or Church will likewise be saved, the Bible ascertains that "God will judge them" (I Cor. 5:12-13, Ibid.). Therefore, for a person to go to heaven or be saved, he must not refuse to enter the Church of Christ, because becoming a member of this Church is, in fact, following the will of God and of Christ.
As to the people who live in places that can hardly be reached by the preaching of the true gospel, Apostle Paul explained their case in relation to salvation:
"All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. "(Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.)" (Rom. 2:12, 14-15, New International Version)
Apostle Paul taught that those who had not received the gospel will be judged through the law that is written in their hearts with their consciences bearing witness. Those who have not been reached by the preaching of the words of God also know what is good and bad because there is a law written in their hearts. For instance, even those who have never heard the gospel preached know that acts such as murder and theft are evil, for their conscience dictates so. Thus, the people who sin apart from the law will be judged through the law written in their hearts. God will judge those who are being judged by their hearts because He is greater than our hearts, and knows all things (I John 3:20).
Nonetheless, people like us who have the opportunity and means to listen to the true gospel have the responsibility to fulfill what God requires of us in order to be saved. We must "seek the law" because on the day of Judgment, we will be judged according to the gospel (Mai. 2:7; Rom. 2:16).
(May 2009 God's Message Vol. 61 No. 5)
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