Are all members of the church saved? If not, how do you know who is and who isn’t?
Suggested Daily Reading: Romans 2:28 – 3:2
The “church” is not a humanly constructed building or organization. It is not of human origin or preservation. The church is God’s. God instituted, gathers, rules and maintains His church. The church consists of people. People who believe in the Bible and in Jesus Christ.
The term “church” is used in four ways in the New Testament. Church refers to:
- All saved believers in Jesus Christ who love God from their hearts – the elect (Eph. 5:25-27; Rom. 2:28-29)
- All people who gather together to worship God under His appointed church office-bearers (1 Cor. 12:28; Rom. 3:1-2)
- All people who gather in one local place to worship God (Phil. 1:1)
- The local church as represented by its church office-bearers (Matt. 18:17)
The church that gathers every Lord’s Day to worship is often termed the “Church Visible.” We can see who is there and who belongs. These people are outward or visible members. In distinction, the saved church on earth is termed the “Church Invisible.” That is, we as human beings, cannot perfectly discern all who are regenerated or inward members from those who are not. Only God can perfectly distinguish this.
We know, however, that not all members of the Church Visible are members of the Church Invisible – not all who attend church worship services are saved/regenerated (Rom. 2:28-29; 6:6-8).
We can distinguish if we are saved members or only outward members of God’s church by the fruits in our lives (John 15:5-6). We are not to presume we are saved, simply because we were born into the church and baptized as infants of believing parents (Matt. 3:9-10). We must be born again (John 3:3). We must personally repent and believe the gospel (Mark 1:15). Our hearts must be won over to love God and to love and obey His law – to strive to walk in His ways (John 14:15). The results of a heart that loves God is recognizable in our motives, thoughts, words and actions. Instead of loving and living for self, sin and the lusts of this world, we hate it when we do this. Our deepest love is to live for God’s glory and to love God above all and others as ourselves (Matt. 22:35-40).
Outward covenant relationship and church membership does not necessarily mean a saving relationship or membership. Can you think of biblical examples of this? How is this illustrated in Jesus’ parable of the Wheat and Tares (Matt. 13:24-30)? Are you saved? Despite your sin and failures, by God’s grace, are you bringing forth fruits of repentance, faith and obedience?