Daniel I. Hiler
The saved are in the church. That is correct. That is what the scriptures teach. Because it is correct, we believe and teach it. Let us look at a text—Acts 2:47: “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” Who were added? The saved. Who added them? The Lord. To what did he add them? The church—His church, the one He built, or founded. I wonder if anyone doubts that. There was no other. But if there had been a thousand others, it is inconceivable that He would have put the saved into a man-made church when He had one of His own—the one that He built, that He was ruling, the one that He so loved that He gave Himself for it and saved it. I think that most people accept this doctrine in an abstract sort of way, having only a vague idea of what the Lord’s church is.
It is when someone dares to make a present day application of the doctrine, identifying himself with the Lord’s church, that a storm of protest arises. He is accused of wanting to send everybody else to hell, while only he and his little group will go to heaven. The accusation is, of course, made recklessly without proper investigation to ascertain the facts. If a church founded by a man or a group of men should preach that no one could be saved without being a member of it, its claim would be, equally of course, absurd if not worse. But if individuals discover from reading the New Testament what the Lord requires of them in order that they may be saved and do that, and discover also from the same source that the Lord adds the saved to His church, do they not have a perfect right to believe that they are in His church? Then if they teach others what they have learned, can they justly be said to be trying to send others to hell? Might they not be trying to keep them from going there?
The doctrine that the saved are in the church and not somewhere else is not a harsh doctrine, for the church is that institution that the Lord gave His own life to found. Instead of rebelling at the idea of being required to belong to one certain church, would it not be much better to be thankful for being permitted to belong to one certain church when that one is the Lord’s own?