A few years ago I called on a young man and his wife for a
home Bible study. The young man had left a denomination to
become just a Christian, but he had subsequently quit
attending the worship assemblies of the church. I asked some
questions to try to discern the problem. He in turn asked me
if I believed that people in other churches were lost. He
thought members of the church of Christ were much too narrow
minded. The vast majority of religious people agree.
Certainly this question deserves our attention, for it
involves the salvation of souls (Matthew 16:26-27). So, we
inquire, will the good people of all churches be saved?
Basis of Answer
The apostle Paul commands, "Test all
things hold fast what is good" (1 Thessalonians
5:21). But, what shall be the standard by which we test? If
we answer the problem on the basis of our feelings, what our
parents say, human wisdom, church
creeds, or the advice of most preachers, almost all will
conclude, "Yes, the good people of all churches will be
saved." But we must "walk by faith" to be
saved (2 Corinthians 5:7), and "faith comes by hearing
... the word of God" (Romans 10:17). So, to be correct,
we must set aside all merely human sources and consult the
What Do the Scriptures Say?
The opinion that the good people of all churches will be
saved is based upon at least four assumptions. We will test
each of these assumptions by the Bible to see if they are
Will Good Morals Alone Save?
If people who are morally good will be saved regardless of
what they believe and practice, then good morals alone will
save. Is a morally upright life all that is necessary to
The Roman centurion Cornelius was
a devout man and one who feared God with all
his household, who gave alms generously to the people,
and prayed to God always" (Acts 10:1-2).
Furthermore, he was "a just man" and was so
morally good that, although he was a Roman soldier, whom the
Jews generally hated he had "a good reputation among all
the nation of the Jews" (Acts 10:22). I dare say you
will not find a man more pure in life than was Cornelius. And
yet, he was in need of salvation (Acts 11:13-14). You see,
despite his upright life, he, as all others except Jesus, had
sinned (Romans 3:23) and thus had earned death (Romans 6:23).
Friend, unless you have lived a sinless life, and you have
not (1 John 1:8-10), good morals alone will not save you. In
fact, if good morals alone will save, the death of Jesus was
unnecessary, for there are morally upright people who are
Moslems, Jews, pagans, and even agnostics, infidels, and
atheists. Will these people be saved apart from Christ?
Is One Church as Good As Another?
The contention that the good people of all churches will
be saved is also based on the assumption that one church is
as good as another. Is this true?
It is certainly true that one human denomination is as
spiritually good as any other. But does this mean that such
denominations are as good as the church Jesus built?
For example, God accepted the sacrifice of Abel while He
rejected that of Cain (Genesis 4:3-5). Why? Because Abel's
sacrifice was "By faith" (Hebrews 11:4). He offered
what God commanded (Romans 10:17), whereas Cain did not. Was
one sacrifice as good as another? Was a sacrifice based on
opinion as good as one offered by faith?
Or, consider the gospel message. Is a gospel from man as
good as that from God? No, the gospel of Christ "is the
power of God to salvation" (Romans 1:16), but all human
gospels bring a curse (Galatians 1:6-12). We must speak what
we believe (2 Corinthians 4:13), and "faith comes by
hearing ... the word of God" (Romans 10:17). It is never
as good to walk by opinion as it is to walk by faith (2
So, then, are the denominations of men as good as the
church Jesus built? Christ certainly did build a church
(Matthew 16:18), and He has but one (Ephesians 1:22-23; 4:4).
The Pharisees were a sect of Jesus' day. When the disciples
warned the Master that a saying of His was
offensive to this sect, He replied:
"Every plant which My heavenly Father
has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone. They are
blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind,
both will fall into the ditch" (Matthew 15:13-14).
If a preacher says the same thing about a
human sect today, most people think he is a narrow-minded
bigot. Was the Lord a narrow-minded bigot, or did He simply
have the courage to state the truth? Now, honestly, dear
friend, is a human denomination as good as the church built
by the Son of God?
Do Denominations Belong to
But, someone objects, the various
denominations are simply a part of the church Christ built.
This is a third assumption. Is it true? Paul pleaded with the
Christians in Corinth not to have divisions, but to "be
perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same
judgment." He rebuked them for wearing sectarian names
as signs of party loyalty (1 Corinthians 1:10-13). Does that
sound as if the Lord approves of His people believing and
teaching contradictory doctrines and belonging to religious
Does God Have a Choice?
Finally, when people contend that the good
people of all churches will be saved, they assume God has
simply left it up to man what to be religiously. They assume
God has no choice in the matter. Is this true? Friend, it is
not enough to believe Jesus is Lord, we must "do the
will of" God (Matthew 7:21). The Lord adds the saved to
His church (Acts 2:47). Salvation is only in Christ (John
14:6; Acts 4:10-12). Christ saves His body (Ephesians 5:23),
and the church of Christ "is His body, the fullness of
Him" (Ephesians 1:22-23). Do you really think the Lord
has left it up to us to be members of any church that strikes
Friend, the Bible most assuredly does NOT
teach that the good people of all churches will be saved. In
the Day of Judgment many who thought they were saved will be
lost (Matthew 7:22-23). You see, salvation is only in Christ
(2 Timothy 2:10), in His body, the church (Ephesians
You can be a member of the church Jesus
built. If you will believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of
God, repent of your sins, confess before men your faith in
Christ, and be baptized in water for the remission of sins,
Christ will save you (Romans 10:9-10; Acts 3:19; 2:38). He
will then add you to His church (Acts 2:47), the body of the
saved (Ephesians 5:23).