My Thoughts . . .
Perhaps you have not been informed, but if you have been saved, you are supposedly in the “invisible body of Christ,” which is essential to your salvation. However, as soon as possible, you are told that you need to join a “visible” church, which is “not essential to your salvation,” but is necessary to have fellowship with other saved people. It is claimed that the “invisible” one is the true “body of Christ,” made up only of those whom God has added to the saved (Acts 2:37-47). The “visible one” is made up of those who are truly saved as well as the pseudo-Christians who think they are. God adds to the saved, providing for every spiritual need, but the saved decided they needed to divide themselves into non-essential churches. That decision is contrary to Jesus’ prayer in John 17:20-21. With a multiplicity of churches being created, one discovers that he must submit to the specific church’s doctrine which makes it different from the doctrine and practice of other non-essential churches.
Those who are members of the “invisible” church are encouraged by friends, family, and pastors to become a member of their “visible” fellowship. Why? The usual reply is that membership is essential in order to “have fellowship” with others who believe alike. It has the real Christian engaged in non-essential actions as though those acts are essential to his salvation. If such is so, then those “visible” churches that have practices different from one another, are engaged in error. In all “visible” churches the true Christian is engaged in actions with pseudo-Christians as though both are performing acceptably as the saved “body of Christ.” Does Paul not forbid fellowship with such because they are engaged in the unfruitful works of darkness (Ephesians 5:11)?
Why do some believe that those whom God has added to the saved cannot be recognized nor identified as the true “body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:2; 12:27)? Since that recognition is missing, one is obligated to join a “visible” church that can be identified. Isn’t that view questioning Paul’s inspiration? Did he not write to “the church of God” in Corinth? When he addressed them as “the body of Christ” did he speak the truth or a lie? Why would the saved want to join a non-essential church when they can easily encourage one another as the true “body of Christ”? If scripture does not require a saved individual to join a non-essential body of the pseudo-saved, then where did that requirement originate?
If an assembly must be perfect in doctrine and practice to be the saved of God, then neither Jerusalem, Corinth, Philippi, nor any other first century assembly was saved. Most of the New Testament letters to churches called for correction. If correction was stipulated, it indicated the imperfection of that congregation. Yet, despite their faults, each assembly was “the body of Christ” in that locale. Each was in fellowship with God as well as the other assemblies of Christ. Corinth was “the body of Christ” in their city. Paul never used the classification of “visible” or “invisible.” Such identifying phrases originated much, much later due to error being continually accepted and practiced. We are victims of the traditions, concepts, and practices of those who lived before us. Churches divide for multiple reasons. Those who led those fractures usually believed division was essential to remain faithful to God. Self-righteousness is often stronger than truth. Paul asked, “Is Christ divided?” If we please anyone with our divisions, it is Satan. What is our justification for dividing the body of Christ today? What passage teaches that members of “the body of Christ” must join a non-essential “visible church” to have fellowship, worship, or encouragement? According to scripture, all those who were added to the saved by Yahweh God had fellowship, teaching, worship, and encouragement before man introduced the “visible” doctrine (Acts 2:46-47).