I think it would be good to first establish the fact that there is only one church.  Speaking of the Lord Jesus, we read in Ephesians 1:22-23 that God, “…hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.”  We also read in Ephesians 4:4, “There is one body.”  The true church is composed of only true believers on the Lord Jesus Christ.  While it is possible, and sadly happens all the time, it is possible for unsaved people to join a local ‘church.’  However, the only way to become part of the one true church, is through faith in the Lord Jesus.  We read in Acts 2:47, “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”  See?  You can’t join.  The Lord adds you when you are saved.

Sadly enough, today there are many different church groups that represent various teachings.  There are many denominations that normally stand for a set of doctrines.  Most of these have doctrinal differences that keep them apart from each other.  These divisions in the church are an indication of how the Lord has not been given His place as “the head over all things to the church.”  We must all shamefully admit that the ONE church, which had ONE head (Christ) does not bear the characteristics of what the Lord would have it look like.  Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 3:3, “For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?”

Because of all these differences, denominations, and divisions, most believers will find a church group that most closely believes and teaches as they do.  I admit that I would not be comfortable in a setting where I knew they were going to teach things that I consider to be contrary to the Word of God.  In reality, it is not spiritually healthy to go from group to group, hearing all kinds of teachings and never really being sure what the truth is.  So what are we to do to make sure we are where the Lord wants us to be, following His truths, and manifesting the truth of the ‘one body’ of Christ?  Going to the ‘church of your choice’ is not a scriptural principal.

It would be good for us to go back to the example of the early church and follow their practice.  We read in Acts 2:42, “And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.”  Four things are mentioned here that should command our attention:

  1. They continued steadfastly, or persevered, in the apostles’ doctrine. – We are responsible before the Lord to learn what the apostles taught us in the Bible and follow those truths.  Man’s thoughts and traditions have no authority.  We need to learn what God’s Word says, and then obey it.
  2. They continued in fellowship. – These believers realized the importance of clinging to one another, to seek to encourage each other and to share the things of the Lord with one another.  This is not one person’s duty.  It is the duty of ALL believers.  To come together for a ‘church dinner’, when all we do is talk about our families, our jobs, or our favorite sports do nothing to strengthen each other.  While we may enjoy each other’s company, it is the ministry of the scriptures that will strengthen and guide us.  Friendship is one thing, while fellowship is something altogether different.
  3. They continued in breaking of bread. – This is in reference to the Lord’s request that we remember Him and the death He died for us.  I encourage you to read 1 Corinthians 11:23-31 to learn more.
  4. They continued in prayers. – These saints came together often to pray together, lifting up their voices and hearts to their Lord in praise and in dependence.

This is how the Lord wants His church to gather and to continue steadfastly in the truths He has given us in His Word.  May the Lord touch our hearts with that sense of responsibility to gather together according to His Word so that we might please and honor Him.  (187.4)