“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood” (Acts 20:28).
Many say that it makes no difference—in theory that is! However, in practice it shows that it at least matters to them. Why? Perhaps it is because the first position is a matter of self-justification meaning that they have compromised their convictions if they had them to begin with. People join a church for various reasons. We have heard of some who did so because of personal friendships. To some, the preacher appealed to them through the style of dress or diction. Some join a church because of social prestige or to obtain business. To many—but not enough—it is a matter of conviction.
Does it make any difference to the Lord? He went to great pains to foreshadow, picture, or pattern His church (Heb. 8:1-2; 9:8-9; 10:1). He chose to build it Himself. “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). The church is His because He paid for it, built it and because He loved it enough to die for it (Eph. 5:25). He paid the purchase price (1 Cor. 3:9). He chose one church to be His bride (Rom. 7:4; Eph. 5:23-24; 2 Cor. 11:2-3). Christ honored one church by giving it His name. As individuals, we are called Christians (Acts 11:26; 1 Pet. 4:16). Universally, including all Christians, we are an assembly (Rom. 16:16; Heb. 12:23). It was into one church that He put His table (Acts. 20:7; 1 Cor. 10:17; Luke 22:29-30). He adds the saved to one church (Acts 2:41, 47). Of course it makes a difference to our Lord!
It is possible for that church to be discovered, restored and perpetuated, minus all that denominationalism stands for. The church is perfectly outlined in the New Testament as to its founder, the foundation, the head (Col. 1:18), the creed (Mat. 16:16), its discipline (2 Tim. 3:15), the ordinances (1 Cor. 11:2), the organization (1 Tim. 3) and its message (Gal. 1:8).
The terms of entrance are identical with the Gospel requirements for salvation (Rom. 1:16; Mat. 28:18-20; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38). Then there is maintenance to be done. Membership is maintained by following the teaching of the New Testament by life, by service (Col. 3:17) and by worship (Acts 2:42).
It is by the authority of Jesus Christ that a local congregation of Christians offers to all the privileges of becoming a Christian just as men did under the direction of inspired men (Acts 2:38). This causes one to be simply a Christian plus nothing or minus nothing—being a member of the church you read of in the New Testament without being a party to denominationalism (1 Cor. 1:10). There is freedom in Christ not from Christ, in His Word, or law. We have liberty, not a license; we have law, without legalism; authority without autocracy (human).
When God speaks it does make a difference what men do. About Adam and Eve, Voltaire said, “What a difference could an apple make?” God did not say it was an “apple,” but it made all the difference in the world. You see, the authority and character of God is involved, as well as human destiny. It made a difference what river Naaman dipped in (2 Kings 5) and it makes a tremendous difference whether we are a part of the bride—the church of Christ.