“Outside the church there is not salvation”
This was often quoted before the reformation. Most people believed it back then. Yet, it doesn’t seem plausible for us today. Why is that? There are many reasons why, but i think two reasons stand out: 1) Because we have become more technologically, scientifically, and intellectually advanced, we think anything that is before the 20th century isn’t valid. 2) We have become far more individualistic.
So what are we to make of this? Just because we have advanced in many things, it doesn’t mean we are smarter about theology. Church was an issue that the early church Fathers wrestled with to the best of their ability. When you understand justification by faith alone, you can safely conclude that the physical act of going to church will NOT save you. It’s through hearing the gospel and completely trusting in the gospel that determines our salvation. HOWEVER, not being part of the church means you don’t really understand the gospel – which is problematic.
You sort of need the church because you need the gospel preached to you all the days of your life. Too often, individuals are more concerned about their own spirituality rather than gathering with other sinners to worship together. It’s through the body of the church that we start to grow as individuals. What better way to build your faith than to be with others that struggle just as you do and are in need of grace just as much as you?