“And when [Saul] had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples” (Acts 9:26).
IN TODAY’S READING AND TOMORROW’S, I WANT TO RAISE TWO IMPORTANT QUESTIONS, BOTH OF WHICH HAVE TO DO WITH THE IDEA OF “CHURCH.” The first is this: when a person obeys the gospel, is it necessary to associate oneself with a congregation of Christians?
I’d be less than honest if I didn’t tell you that the answer is “Yes.” As far as the New Testament goes, there is no connection to Christ available to us that does not involve responsibilities to Christ’s people (1 Corinthians 1:2; 1 John 4:20–5:2; etc.). For one thing, we will need to partake of the Lord’s Supper every first day of the week, and in the New Testament, the Lord’s Supper was a congregational activity (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 11:17–34).
But I must be honest with you on another point. The brief days in the New Testament when all congregations were holding to the truth of the gospel are long gone. Most churches now professing Christianity are practicing a religion that is not even a forty-second cousin to the first-century faith. So today, you will need to look carefully for a group that takes the lordship of Christ seriously.
Please know that I’m willing to help you. Wherever you live, I can put you in touch with brothers and sisters who are committed to the simple, unadulterated gospel found in the New Testament. Feel free to contact me, and I will do everything I can to assist you.
If you’re a new Christian looking for a faithful congregation, you may feel as if you’re looking for a needle in a haystack. It is sad but true that most churches claiming to follow Christ are not doing that — they’re following their own preferences about what “seems right” (Proverbs 14:12). But don’t give up. It took you a while to find the true Messiah, and in a confused world, it may take you a while to find the Messiah’s faithful people. Don’t be misled by the attractions of modern entertainment masquerading as religion. You are searching for the Lord’s people, so “examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21 NASB).
“It is scarcely possible in most places to get anyone to attend a meeting where the only attraction is God. One can only conclude that God’s professed children are bored with him, for they must be wooed to meeting with a stick of striped candy in the form of religious movies, games, and refreshments” (A. W. Tozer).