What connection is there between church and salvation? It really depends on who you ask.
Quora.com is a website where people can ask questions, and then members of the site answer them. The answers that receive the most upvotes will be at the top. This is a great format for gauging the beliefs of the general population, but is not great for finding the right answer. We should never determine what is right or wrong based on the majority view.
When you ask the question “Do I need to be a member of a church in order to be saved?” The highest voted response is, “No, you don't, but it is recommend attending to church.” I believe that this response represents the average 21st century religious person, especially in America.
People who hold this view might string together some verses that speak about salvation without mentioning the church. Acts 16:31, John 3:16, Eph 2:8-9, may be their choice.
They may summarize the process like this, “You get saved, and then you join a church that you like.”
I want you to know that this is wrong, and I hope you will bear with me as I point out what the word of God teaches.
In Matthew 16:18-19 Jesus said, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” We have to notice that the church is Christ’s.
Acts 2 and the day of Pentecost is the birthday of the church of Christ. When Peter convicted the crowd of their sins, they asked, “what shall we do?”. Peter responded by saying “Repent ye and be baptized everyone of you for the remission of sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (2:36-38). I don’t know of too many people who would argue that remission of sins and salvation are two ways of saying the same thing. In fact, Luke makes that conclusion for us in verses 40-41. Obeying that gospel message by repenting and being baptized “saved” them.
But there is a curious phrase in verse 41, “that day about three thousand souls were added to them”. They were added to the church (2:47). Did they get saved and then ask the apostles if they could be apart of the church of Christ? No, they were added to the church of Christ the moment that they received the word by being baptized/ sins remitted/ saved.
People can’t “join” the church of Christ. They are added to it by the Lord himself the moment they are baptized for the forgiveness of their sins. Jesus places every person who has obeyed the gospel in His church (2:47).
The Bible simply teaches that the church of Christ is a synonym for “the saved”. Saying you don’t need to be a member of his church is saying you don’t need to be saved!
Matthew 16:18-19 shows us that the kingdom and the church are synonymous terms. 1 Corinthians 15:24 says that the last thing the Lord will do is deliver “the kingdom over to the Father”. Is there any hope of salvation outside of that kingdom? No
In Ephesians 1:20-23 we learn that the church of Christ is “the body” of Christ. And in that same book, Paul says that Christ is “the savior of his own body” (Eph 5:23). He is the savior of His church!
In the body/church of Christ all of the spiritual blessings of salvation and grace are found (Eph 1:3-14).
What if we asked, “do I need to be a member of the body of Christ to be saved?”. If you are going to be consistent you would have to say, "no". Don’t be consistent with man-made doctrines, be consistent with the doctrine of Christ! Seek out the church of Christ and have Him add you to it by obeying His gospel!
Unfortunately, men have arisen through the years who have taken the church that Christ purchased with his blood (Acts 20:28), perverted the gospel (Gal 1:6-9), and have made their own church (1 Cor 1:10). I agree that you don’t need to be a member of any one of these churches to be saved . Jesus never promised to build, purchase, or save any denomination. You shouldn’t be a member of Luther’s church, A Baptist’s church, a pentecostal’s the church, your pastor’s church, or the pope’s church. These are not the church that Christ promised to build and to save. They are not Christ’s church.
He will save His church. Biblically, you can not be saved without being a member of the church of Christ.