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The Church is the Assembly of the Saved, Not the Administrator of Salvation

The Church is the Assembly of the Saved, Not the Administrator of Salvation

By Paul R. Blake

            John Newton, the author of the hymn “Amazing Grace,” wrote: “My memory is almost gone, but I remember one thing: that I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior.” In one sentence, he summarized God’s scheme of redemption. Man is lost due to his own sin and alone is helpless to do anything about that condition. God took the initiative in man’s salvation and sent Jesus Christ as an offering for sin. Man responds to God’s plan with obedient faith and is saved. He then becomes part of the body of the saved, the church. The church completes God’s scheme by communicating the message of salvation to other lost persons who in turn can respond to the Divine initiative.

            Occasionally persons, saved or lost, lose sight of the fact that the church only teaches of salvation; and instead, they develop the mistaken idea that the church saves. It must be understood that the church is the body of obedient believers who received salvation; the church is not an institution that dispenses salvation to the lost.

            Several denominational influences have contributed to this misguided reasoning. The first is the tendency to institutionalize individual effort and accomplishment. The work of teaching the lost is completed one person at a time; sinners are saved individually, not collectively. The second is the prideful inclination to elevate the role of helper to that of administrator. The church only carries the message of salvation; the Lord does the saving. The third factor leading to this mistaken tenet is based upon an over-emphasis on the autonomy of local churches. In an effort to maintain control over membership and doctrine in local churches, some men press autonomy to the point that they lose focus on the centralized control and oversight of the church by Jesus Christ in heaven. His Divine role as administrator of salvation is de-emphasized in an effort to press Christians into an un-natural, unscriptural level of dependency on the leaders of a local congregation. What does the New Testament teach?

            The Church is the Assembly of the Saved

            The church is the body of believers and followers of Jesus Christ, saved from their sins by the grace of God, by the blood of Christ, and by obedience to the gospel. The church is the assembly of the beneficiaries of the blessings of the Lord. All members of the church are former sinners who received salvation from the Lord when they heard the word of God that informed them that they were lost and in need of the cleansing power of the blood of Christ (Rom. 3:23-25, 5:8-9). This word generated faith within them, and this faith moved them to repent of their sins and choose righteousness (Rom. 10:17; Acts 3:19). They declared their faith by confessing Jesus Christ as the Son of God in the presence of others (Rom. 10:9-10). They completed the scripturally defined human response to the grace of God by being immersed in water for the remission of sins (Acts 22:16; 1Peter 3:21). When they rose from baptism, they were saved from their sins and the Lord added them to His church, the assembly of the saved (Acts 2:47). By this Divinely ordained plan, they became the recipients of salvation.

            While it is true that sinners are saved on an individual basis, it is also true that the New Testament speaks of Jesus Christ as the Savior of the church. He is the only authorized dispenser or administrator of salvation. The apostle Paul wrote: “And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby” (Eph. 2:16). Christ did the work of uniting all obedient believers into one body by his death on the cross. He is “the savior of the body” (Eph. 5:23), and “he gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word” (5:25-26). Jesus is the agency by which the church receives salvation; however, some incorrectly assume that this implies that he saves the church collectively. It must be understood that his salvific work is universal to every member of the body individually. Salvation is never en masse, nor will the church be judged collectively. Sinners are saved one by one, and members of the church will be judged based on their own works alone. Paul clarified this for the Corinthians: “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit” (1Cor. 12:13). Every member of the church is saved by the Lord and is saved the same way--the Lord’s way.

You Will Never Be Sorry:

For thinking before acting,

For hearing before judging,

For forgiving your enemies,

For being candid and frank,

For helping a fallen brother,

For being honest in business,

For thinking before speaking,

For being involved in the local congregation,

For standing by the truth,

For stopping your ears to gossip,

For bridling a slanderous tongue,

For harboring only pure thoughts,

For sympathizing with the afflicted,

For being courteous and kind to all.

(Author Unknown)

“Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all” (1Thes. 5:14-15).

Test Your Bible Knowledge

What are the “Synoptic Gospels”?

Who was swallowed by a great fish?

How many stones did David put in his bag?

Which day did Jesus rise?

Where do you find: “Jesus wept.”

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