Please be patient with me on this thread. Im going to try to explain all of this to a JW sister who believes salvation is ONLY within the organisation. If you have any thoughts and suggestions id most appreciate it.
As I was growing up as a JW, i refused to believe straight from the beginning that you had to be a JW to be saved. When JW's would say it, i would cringe and think about scriptures such as John 3:16 which say that ALL those putting faith in Jesus will be saved. I then think of the dreaded illustration a number have given to me when i had doubt about the organisation: There was only one ark! There is only one organisation Jehovah is using today too and you need to be in it to be saved. But I thought John said that all you needed to do to be saved was to exercise faith in Jesus? Ok... replace the word with organisation with congregation and yes, i agree with you. Let me explain why. I researched all of this yesterday after thoroughly reading Ephesians and to me, it makes logical sense.
In Ephesians 3:6, Paul reveals Gods plan or his secret which is that Jesus Christ had given himself up as a sacrifice so that those believing in him could all be a part of HIS body or HIS congregation (See Ephesians 1:22-23). Context is very important regarding the next few verses. Paul wrote this letter to remind the Ephesians of this plan and to make sure they understood that the gentiles and Jews were totally equal to each other in Jesus eyes. Neither was better than the other but they were regarded exactly the same as long as they believed in Christ. In Ephesians 4, Paul encourages them to be united in their belief in Jesus. He encouraged them to do this in Ephesians 4:2, asking them to be humble, gentle, patient with each other, but most importantly to show love to one another. In verse 3 he encourages them to be united in the spirit.
In the next few verses, Paul shows the Ephesians that unity is VERY important. He explains how God is also keen on unity. We read in verse 4-6: there is one body (The congregation which is Jesus’ body), one spirit, one hope (see Ephesians 2:13), one Lord (Jesus who is head of the congregation), one faith, one baptism and one God. Paul was giving this council because he wanted to remind the Christian gentiles and the Christian Jews that it didn’t matter who they are, but they would be united if they believed and put faith in Jesus Christ who was the head.
Now, I will try to make sense of it. If there is ONE body which is Jesus congregation, then what are all those other congregations and churches that men have set up? I think I know the answer… they are simply catalysts to help us be a part of Jesus’ congregation. They are not trying to claim that they are the TRUE congregation. If you have faith in Jesus sacrifice and make for peace and unity then I see no reason why you cant be a part of that congregation. I believe that it makes NO DIFFERENCE who you are or what denomination you belong to (even JW) as long as you PERSONALLY are a good Christian, are making for peace and unity and are putting faith in Jesus.
I don’t see how one religion can say that it is the truth and it is the only means of salvation because that is not what the bible teaches.
Thanks for reading, if you have any suggestions please help me along.