First we need to define the word "church", most believe it is a building or organization, but it is not! It is a community or assembly of believers.
Why do we assemble?
Because there is a command to assemble on the Sabbath before the Lord in prayer and worship.
(Leviticus 23:3) "Six days can work be done but the seventh day is the Sabbath of rest, a holy gathering. "
(Ecclesiastes 5:1) "Keep your foot when you go to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools, "
(Matthew 9:35) "And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing sickness and disease among the people."
(Matthew 21:13) "It is written, My house is called the house of prayer,"
(Mark 6:2) "And when the Sabbath day had come, he started to teach in the synagogue,"
(Luke 4:15-16) "And he taught in their synagogues, being praised by all. Then he came to Nazareth, where he had been raised, and as the practice was, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and then stood up to read."
(Luke 4:31) "Then he went down to Capernaum a city in Galilee, teaching them on the Sabbaths."
(Luke 4:44) "And he taught in the synagogues of Galilee."
(Luke 19:46) "As it is written, my house is a house of prayer."
(I Corinthians 12:28) "And God has set some in the church, first as apostles, second prophets, third teachers, and after that workers of miracles, then the gift of healing, helpers, administrators, and interpreters."
(Hebrews 10:24-25) "And let us consider how we can inspire each other to love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another all the more as you see the day approaching."
Up until the time of the Babylonian captivity there was only one location (Jerusalem) for the gathering of worship and to celebrate the annual high Sabbath days. After the destruction of the temple and the exile of the Jewish people, synagogues were established to service the small communities of exiled Jews. Thus began the establishment of churches. Yet according to Mathew, any location, even ones home will do.
(Matthew 18:20) "Wherever two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the middle of them."
The Sabbath day was established as a day of rest, a holy gathering of Gods people, as few as two people gathered in the Lords name constitute a church meeting.
How then do you recognize Gods true church?
Coming together is to encourage, teach, admonish, and edify one another, and should be joyous!
When most Christians think of church, the following comes to mind, singing a few hymns
and then the congregation sits quietly in their pew, while the pastor conducts the service and delivers the sermon. They stand and sit on cue and pass the offering plate.
The gathering together with others is to be a participatory and interactive event, where each person uses his God given spiritual gifts for the benefit, or building up, of the congregation as a whole.
A church should be a place to assemble and hear the word of God read aloud, and those that have questions can ask them aloud, a place of prayer, a coming together in joy and song, a place where those in a common belief can fellowship together encouraging and strengthening each other in their belief.
Music was always an important part of religious services, there were singers and musicians who took part in most worship services, be it the weekly Sabbath or annual Sabbaths. Music, singing, and dancing were part of the celebrating before the Lord.
In locating a church, you need to find one that follows doctrines that are scriptural, as outlined within the Bible. No church organization, or minister can get you into heaven, its an individual responsibility.
The sermon in today's church meeting seems to have become the primary event of the service, with everything else leading up to it. The sermon has taken over center stage, and the meeting is judged by the quality of the sermon message. Yet this format is non Biblical.
Being a member of God's church involves a spiritual membership, not a physical one. Having the spirit of God dwell within you is what makes you a member of his church. Christ is not returning to a material building, he is returning to a church that is built on the foundation of the prophets, apostles, and Christ himself, Ephesians 2:19-22.
The church (body of believers) would be a small group.
Jesus taught that the true church would be a “little flock” (Luke 12:32), hated by the world (Matthew 10:22), and persecuted (Matthew 10:23). He also taught only a few would find the way to eternal life (Matthew 7:13-14; 20:16). Jude indicates that the number of saints was relatively small (Jude 14), while Paul called the small group a “remnant” (Romans 11:5).
Matthew 7:13-14 "Enter you in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads unto life, and few there be that find it"
If you cannot find a church in your area, remember that the true temple of God is your own body, for the spirit of God dwells within you.
Is there only one true Church Organization?
(Luke 9:49-50) "And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us."
There are many organizations, as long as the hold true to scripture they are following God's word.
Remember that you must do what is right with God and not what is right with some church Organization, for some day you will have to answer to God, not to the Organization.
The Church of God Proclaimed