The anti-Catholic Born Again sects have deliberately preached their modern heresy of anti-Ecclesial exclusivity to support their denominational claim — as they would say, religio non potest salvum facere (religion cannot save). This is in total opposition to the apostolic teaching that — Extra ecclesiam nulla salus (Outside the church, there is no salvation). According to these evangelicals, there is only one mean of salvation, and that is through personal relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ. But, is it true?
Religion was taken from the Old French word religion which means religious community; also from Latin, religionem (nominative, religio) which means respect for what is holy or the bond between man and God. One interpretation is traced to Cicero, connecting lego meaning read, i.e. re (again) + lego in the sense of choose, go over again or consider carefully. Modern scholars such as Tom Harpur and Joseph Campbell favor the derivation from ligare meaning to bind or connect, probably from a prefixed re-ligare, i.e. re (again) + ligare or to reconnect, which was made prominent by St. Augustine, following the interpretation of Lactantius. Thus, in this definition alone, it logically explains that, if the means of salvation is only through relationship with the Lord, then the establishment of such relationship with God can only be achieved through true religion. Having no religion provides no room for the right worship, service, and knowledge of God.
Is Religion unbiblical? No. St. James wrote about it. In his letter, he said:
“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” (James 1:27)
See?! There exists a religion which can be perfect before God, a relationship that can be unblemish before Him. It is a relationship that can only be attained through true worship — the supreme worship that can only be offered by our Lord’s one true Church, both His Mystical Body and Beloved Bride, through the celebration of His Paschal Mystery: the Holy Thanksgiving (Eucharist). Is there more intimate relationship than uniting with Christ the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar?!
Thus, the true religion solely lies in Christianity and the true Christian faith fully subsists in the true church of Christ: the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church — the household of God and the pillar and bulwark of truth (cf 1 Timothy 3:15). How can one perfectly worship God if he or she is separate from His one fold, which is His Body?
It is indeed necessary to be a member of the Church because she (the Church) was founded by the Lord Himself (cf. Matthew 16:18) who also wished to gather His flock into her as one fold under one shepherd (cf. John 10:16) becoming her His household (cf. Ephesians 2:19), His one Body (cf. Ephesians 1:22-23), and His beloved bride (cf. Ephesians 5:25-27), whom He purchased by His precious blood (cf. Acts 20:28). Yet, to be a member of the Church, through baptism, is to be rightfully called a child of God (cf. Galatians 3:26-27; Acts 2:41) and a sharer of His eternal inheritance (cf. Romans 8:16-17).
Therefore, THE LORD SAVED THE CHURCH! Be saved through her.
God said: “…but nothing unclean will enter it (heaven), nor anyone who does abominable things or tells lies” (Revelation 21:27). Thus, He, in His Fatherly love, has invited everyone to be perfect, to be holy: “But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy’ (1 Peter 1:15-16).” And those who are made holy are made perfect forever by the Lord through His death on the cross: “For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy” (Hebrews 10:14). But who are those who are being made holy? The Lord said: “That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:27) — THE HOLY CHURCH!
NOW, WHY WOULD GOD BUILD A CHURCH IF IT CAN’T SAVE? It won’t make any sense that the church founded by the Lord has no authority of saving. Like Noah’s Ark, everyone is invited to be with the church in order to be saved. As the Lord Himself reminded us:
“For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left.” (Matthew 24:37-41)
Take heed, therefore, and avoid divisions.
“I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one — as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.” (John 17:21)