Ernest S. Underwood
Many people today use the word “church” without knowing the meaning and significance of the word. The word ‘l church1i comes from the Greek word ekklesia which means “the called out” or the “assembly.” Perhaps many people are aware of this but far too many are not aware of what it means to be called out. The called out refers to those who have been called out of, or separated, from the world of sin. Notwithstanding the fact that many believe and teach that one is saved out of the church, or that one can be saved without being a member of any church, we cannot be separated from sin without being in the church. Unless we are a part of the called out (the church) we are not saved. There is no passage of Scripture that teaches otherwise.
In its governmental feature, the church is the kingdom. For those of us who have lived in a democratic type of government, it is difficult to realize that the Lord’s church is not this way, but a monarchy with Christ as its King and Lawgiver. We, as subjects of this kingdom, are not at liberty to in any way alter or change the laws of the King. He purchased the kingdom with His own blood, He has all authority in everything concerning this kingdom, and He has given the terms of citizenship which man cannot change to suit his fancy. He has told us that in order to be citizens of His kingdom that we must be born into it. (John 3:5) When one fulfills the requirements given by the King (Mark 16:16) he is then “delivered out
of the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of the Son of his love” (Col. 1:13).
God’s word also describes the church as being the house (family) of God. We are told in Hebrews 3: 6, “But Christ as a son over his own house, whose house are we …” That Christ has a house is very plain, but are we able to identify that house? One need only to turn to the sacred Word for the answer. “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how men ought to behave themselves in the house of God which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15). All of God’s children are in His family—He Has none outside his family—the church. To contend otherwise is to call the God of heaven a philanderer.
Paul tells us that the church is the body of Christ (Col. 1:18). Many try to make the body to mean all the religious bodies combined and each denomination is a member of that body—thus making up the one body. It would take but little investigation on one’s part to see the fallacy of such an argument. First of all, in the physical body all members are in harmony with one another and work together for a common cause. It would take a great stretch of the imagination to make this claim concerning the religious chaos that exist in the world today, for none work together in the same manner, but are at variance with one another.
In order to be a part of the “one body,” the church, we must all embrace the one faith, one Lord, one baptism concept of the Scriptures. That the religious world has not done this is evidenced by the division that exists on these very subjects. We cannot be a member of Christ without being a member of His body. His body is the church. (Eph. 1:22,23).
We conclude by saying that one cannot lay claim to salvation if he is not a member of the church, which is the kingdom, which is the house of God, which is the body of Christ, which is the church. To claim otherwise is to go onward and abide not in the doctrine of Christ.