The Position One of the most misunderstood teachings of the Catholic Church is this one: Outside the Church there is no salvation (Extra ecclesiam nulla salus). Those trying to grasp the meaning of this teaching often struggle with its formulations by various Church Fathers and Church Councils down through history. Of course, to understand an isolated formulation of any Church teaching, one must study the historical context within which it was written: why it was written, what was going on in the Church at the time, who the intended audience was, and so on. One must discover how the magisterium (teaching office) of the Church understands its own teaching. If someone fails to do this and chooses, rather, to simply treat a particular formulation as a stand-alone teaching, he runs the risk of seriously misunderstanding it.
The Position In recent times, the Church has recognized that its teaching about the necessity of the Catholic Church for salvation has been widely misunderstood, so it has re-formulated this teaching in a positive way. Here is how the Catechism of the Catholic Church begins to address this topic: How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers? Reformulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body (CCC 846). In keeping with the Churchs current spirit of ecumenism, this positive reformulation comes across less harshly than previous negative formulations. Even so, it remains quite controversial. (http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/2010/1005btb.asp)http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/2010/1005btb.asp
The Position Q. Please explain this sentence from your study on Rev. 2-3 (Epilogue). And dont be surprised when youre joined (in the rapture) by some who were Catholic, some who were Protestant, some conservatives and some liberals and even some who didnt appear to belong to any church at all. Do you mean that some will be saved that have not been to church? A. What I mean is that no church has the corner on salvation. From the letter to Thyatira we saw that some Catholics will be taken in the rapture. From the letter to Sardis we know there will be some main line Protestants joining us, too. Some of these people will be classified as liberal in their theology and some conservative. And there will be many who dont fit into our definition of a traditional church at all. This includes home church groups, members of so-called virtual congregations from the internet, and some who arent connected to any of the above. For example, there are many places in the world where Christians cant meet publicly and have to worship in secret. Theyll all be with us on that day when the Lord takes us home. Remember, its not going to church that makes you a Christian. Its believing that Jesus died for your sins. (www.gracethrufaith.com/articles)www.gracethrufaith.com/articles
The Position We are not arguing… – That one denomination is better than another! John 17:20–21 - 20 I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. – That the church saves people! Ephesians 5:23 - For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.
General Reproofs If I can find salvation through any church, why does the Bible reveal that there is only one body? – Ephesians 4:3–5 - 3 …endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism… – Ephesians 1:22–23 - 22 And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
General Reproofs If I can find salvation through any church, why does the Bible reveal that there is only one body? – 2 Corinthians 11:2 - 2 For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. – Ephesians 5:25, 27 - 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her... 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. – Revelation 21:9 - Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, Come, I will show you the bride, the Lambs wife.
General Reproofs If I can find salvation through any church, why does the Bible reveal that there is only one body? – Matthew 16:18 - And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. – 1 Thessalonians 1:1 - Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. – 1 Corinthians 12:27 - Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. – Romans 12:5 - …so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.
General Reproofs If I can find salvation through any church, why does the Bible reveal that there is only one body? – Acts 2:40–41 - 40 And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, Be saved from this perverse generation. 41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. – Acts 2:47 - …praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
General Reproofs If I can find salvation through any church, why are we told that we are baptized into Christ? – Galatians 3:26–28 - 26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. – Acts 5:14 - And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women…
General Reproofs If I can find salvation through any church, why are we told that we are baptized into Christ? – 1 Corinthians 12:13 - For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or freeand have all been made to drink into one Spirit. – Acts 20:28 - Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.
General Reproofs If I can find salvation through any church, why are we told there is salvation in no other name under heaven? – Acts 4:10–12 - 10 …let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. 11 This is the stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone. 12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.
General Reproofs If I can find salvation through any church, why are we told there is salvation in no other name under heaven? – 2 Corinthians 13:5 - Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?unless indeed you are disqualified. – Jude 3 - Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.
General Reproofs If I can find salvation through any church, why are we taught that all spiritual blessings are in Christ? – Ephesians 1:3 - Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ… – 2 Corinthians 1:20 - For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. – Ephesians 1:6–7 - 6 …to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. 7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace…
General Reproofs If I can find salvation through any church, why are we taught that all spiritual blessings are in Christ? – Ephesians 1:11 - In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will… – Ephesians 2:8–10 - 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
General Reproofs If I can find salvation through any church, why are we taught that all spiritual blessings are in Christ? – 1 Corinthians 1:2 - To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: – Colossians 1:14 - …in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. – Romans 8:1 - There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
General Reproofs If I can find salvation through any church, why are we taught that all spiritual blessings are in Christ? – 2 Corinthians 5:17 - Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. – Philippians 3:14 - I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
General Reproofs If I can find salvation through any church, why are we taught that all spiritual blessings are in Christ? – Revelation 14:13 - Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. Yes, says the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them. – 2 Timothy 2:10 - Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
Case Studies The Corinthians… – 1 Corinthians 1:12–17 - 12 Now I say this, that each of you says, I am of Paul, or I am of Apollos, or I am of Cephas, or I am of Christ. 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name. 16 Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas. Besides, I do not know whether I baptized any other. 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. – 1 Corinthians 3:11 - For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
Case Studies The Seven Churches of Asia… – Revelation 2:5 - Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its placeunless you repent.
Colossians 1:12-14 12 …giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. 13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.
Colossians 1:18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.
John 8:31-32 31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
John 17:17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.