First, the Scriptures from first to last teach us that the Christian life is to be lived within the context of the family of faith (Ephesians 3:4–15; Acts 2). Indeed the Bible knows nothing of lone–ranger Christians! Far from being born again as rugged individuals, we are born into a body of believers of which Christ is the head. Thus, as Hebrews commands, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing” (10:25).
Furthermore, spiritual growth is impossible apart from membership in a healthy, well–balanced church. It is in the church that we receive the Word and sacraments as means of grace. Thus, it is crucial that we emulate the early Christians who “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42).
Finally, while it is in the church that we enter into worship, experience fellowship, and are equipped to witness, church membership itself does not save us. As has been well said, walking into a church does not make you a Christian any more than walking into a garage makes you a car. We are rescued from God’s wrath, forgiven of all our sins, and declared righteous before God solely by grace, through faith, on account of Jesus Christ (Romans 1:17; 3:21–4:8; Ephesians 2:8–9).
For further study, see Hank Hanegraaff, “How do I find a good church?” The Bible Answer Book Volume One (Nashville: J. Countryman, 2004): 39–46.
“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another––and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”