The denominational world generally contends that you are saved by your faith in Jesus Christ alone after which you should join the church of your choice. They consider the church a kind of adjunct or supplement to salvation and Christianity, the idea being that one becomes a Christian then one does or does not join a church. But such concepts are foreign to the New Testament, for the church is the body of Christ (Eph. 1:22-23) made up of all saints who function in Christ (Eph. 4:11-16). When one is baptized into Christ for the remission of sins he is added by God to the church (Acts 2:38-47). Hence, one cannot be a Christian apart from the church of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus makes it plain that we must be born again in order to enter the kingdom (John 3:3). This spiritual rebirth makes us a child of God as we are born into the family of God. When your children we born into this world they were immediately a part of your family. They were not born and then at some subsequent time decided to join your family. This is exactly how God’s children become members of His family, the church (1 Tim. 3:15; Eph. 2:19). They are born anew (1 Peter 1:23; 2:2) and become members of the Lord’s church. Denominationalism’s false concept is of human origin, but the Lord’s church is divine.
Coming into covenant relationship with God makes one a Christian and a member of the universal church. The church universal is without visible organization, for it is a spiritual body with Christ as its head (Col. 1:18). But the Lord has made provisions for His disciples to work and worship together in a local congregation. And so, those Christians that live in the same geographic location agree to function collectively and join forces together to carry out the work of the Lord. The word church is used in reference to this group of brethren who have joined one another in this local fellowship (1 Cor. 1:2; Phil. 4:15).
There are a couple of points I would like to make about the church. First of all, you ll not get to heaven without being a member of the Lord’s church. Clearly the saved will be in heaven, and all the saved are added by the Lord to the church (Acts 2:47). We understand this about the church universal. But it’s also true about the local congregation. I see no evidence in Scripture of Christians being faithful to the Lord without being faithful in their work and worship with a local congregation. There is no such thing as a faithful Christian at large. While you do have a choice as to which faithful group of people you join, there is no choice in the matter of identifying with a faithful local church to be faithful to the Lord. There are some obligations as a Christian that can only be met within the fellowship of the local congregation.
Second, we must realize that the church is not an entity apart from her members. Notice that after Saul’s conversion he tried to join the disciples (Acts 9:26). The church, even the local church, consists of saints in a certain relationship with the Lord and one another. Every Christian that can possibly do so is to join with other Christians in this relationship. God knows our needs, and His plan uses the local congregation to help fulfill those needs. We need to worship Him on a regular and consistent basis. God doesn t have this need, we do. We need to help one another by assembling to teach and admonish and encourage one another (Heb. 10:24, 25). It is to this end that the local church exists to glorify, worship and serve God and help us go to heaven.