Can I be Saved Outside the Church?

David Ray

It doesn’t matter where, when, or how often it’s preached (or even what the Bible says about it), there will always be people who believe that they can be saved without any affiliation with the Lord’s church.

A recent Barna survey and article, Meet Those Who “Love Jesus but Not the Church” (, discussed how these folks are becoming the norm (“orthodox”) in religion. They usually define themselves as “privately spiritual” and they “love Jesus but not the church.” The article said “this spirituality is deeply personal, with many preferring to keep spiritual matters to themselves.” This may sound fine to most people, but is it acceptable to God? Certainly this should be an important question for anyone who claims to love Jesus, considering that Jesus Himself said “if ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15)!

Not surprisingly, the folks who believe in salvation outside the church don’t read the Bible. According to the Barna article, these “love Jesus but not the church” folks “only read scripture half as much as the average practicing Christian” and less than a third as much as “evangelicals.” What this boiled down to was that only 26 percent said they read the Bible at all! Instead, they choose to spend their time in prayer, meditation, and “in nature for reflection.” Notice that none of these things can reveal God’s will (e.g., how to be saved, what God wants in worship, etc.), which means that these folks admittedly have no idea what God actually wants from them, and apparently don’t care.

Are you one of these folks? If so, may we lovingly enquire why you’ve come to this conclusion about salvation and the church? It’s important to see, from your own response (or lack thereof), that you cannot support your view biblically.

When we read the New Testament, we cannot find anything that supports the idea that one can be saved outside of the church. To even suggest otherwise trivializes Christ’s death, since the church is called His “body” (Eph. 1:22-23; Col. 1:18,24), and He died to save that body (Eph. 5:23)! Or, as Luke said in Acts 20:28, He purchased the church “with His own blood.”

The conclusion of most of these folks is that the church doesn’t matter. After all, if one can be saved outside the church, then the church is unnecessary! But, how can anyone conclude this given the truth in Acts 20:28? Doesn’t this verse tell us the pricelessness of the church? It is worth the Savior’s blood! Shouldn’t we then understand the absolute necessity of being members of this body? Did He purchase any other institution with His blood?

These folks claim to believe in Christ and that His death matters. The article says they “made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important to their life today” and that they have a “continued commitment to faith.” But their actions contradict this, claiming that the Son of God gave His life for an institution that is unnecessary!

If this describes you, please know that members of the Lord’s church have great love and concern for you because, though you may believe you’re saved, the Scriptures teach that you’re not. Jesus is the Savior of the body, the church, and there is no salvation outside of it. It is this church (or kingdom, cf., Matt. 16:18-19), and only this church, that will be delivered by Jesus to the Father in the end (1 Cor. 15:24).

We hope and pray that those who claim to love Jesus but not the church will reconsider their ways before it is eternally too late.

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Author: Editor

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