This book explores the Westminster Confession of Faith’s claim that “there is no ordinary possibility of salvation” outside of the church by asking what it means, whether it is biblical, and why it is important. The author concludes that the Westminster Confession rightly stresses the role of the church in bringing people to salvation without making this claim absolute. We should love the church because Christ loved it and gave Himself for it. He died for the church so that we might live in and with it. Let us study this subject with our Bibles in our hands, the Spirit in our hearts, prayer on our lips, and our forefathers helping us along.
Table of Contents:
Part One History—What Does WCF 25.2 Mean?
1. Reformation and Early Reformed Background
2. The Westminster Confession of Faith and Beyond
Part Two Theology—Is WCF 25.2 Biblical?
3. The Church in the Old Testament
4. The Visible Church in the New Testament
5. The Invisible Church in the New Testament
Part Three Practice—Why Is WCF 25.2 Important?
6. The Ordinary Necessity of the Visible Church for Salvation
Ryan M. McGraw is Morton H. Smith Professor of Systematic Theology, Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.
“Among the many teachings of Scripture that the Protestant Reformation recovered was a right understanding of the importance of the church to the Christian life. In The Ark of Safety, Ryan McGraw deftly reacquaints us with the rich heritage of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Reformed reflection on the church and rehearses its biblical foundations with clarity. I warmly recommend this book to any reader who wants to know better what the Bible says about the 'apple of [God’s] eye' (Zech 2:8).”
--Guy Prentiss Waters, James M. Baird, Jr. Professor of New Testament, Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, Mississippi
“For many years I have sought a theologically reliable, reader-friendly, and imminently practical work to address the vital relationship between 'the roll called up yonder' and the local church. My search has come to a delightful halt. In this brief treatment, Ryan McGraw expertly crafts persuasive answers to the pressing questions concerning personal faith and church membership. As he compellingly contends, every true believer is not only of the church invisible but must be in the visible church visibly! May our church rolls increasingly reflect the roll to be called up yonder!”
—David B. Garner, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology and Vice President for Advancement, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia