You can't join the church. "Did you know
that?" I say, "You can't join the church."
This isn't the statement of a sectarian who wants an
exclusiveness which bars people from membership in the church.
Nor is it the babbling of a fanatic who's been trying to
foster a new scheme of things. It's a real fact, a fact which
hasn't been recognized by many people of this generation. The
reason it's not recognized is that the popular teaching of
church-joining nowadays has obscured it.
Church joining isn't an ancient doctrine, but is a passing
phase which has come in the last three hundred years. It could
never have become so common, except for a false idea of what
the church is. And with a false concept of what the church is
has come a second false idea on how to become a member of the
Why can't we join the church? There's fraternal
organizations we can join and be recognized as a full-fledged
member. There's religious organizations of which we can become
a member by joining, but that doesn't make me a member of the
Some preacher made the statement that a person could join
every church denomination in the town and still be as big a
sinner as before. A sinner hearing that decided to try to see
if it were true. There were four churches in his small town
and he joined all four of them and found he was as big a
sinner as he was before. He was a member of each denomination
represented in the town, but he was still an unregenerated man
and a member of Satan's crowd. There's no question about it,
you can't join "God's church" (the body of Christ / the family
You see, the church came from above. Many people have the
idea that the church originated on earth and will finally end
up in heaven. Leslie Weatherhead has put it right when he
reminds us that John saw the Holy City "coming down out of
heaven from God." The Scriptures bear this out over and over.
"We're his workmanship." The church came into existence, not
because man became Godlike but because God visited man through
Christ and the Spirit. We were taught to pray, "Thy kingdom
come on earth as it is in heaven." The church appearing on
earth was the translation of the divine community which
existed eternally in heaven.
Don't misunderstand me. The church is on earth, but it's a
heavenly community which originated above. We can't join it.
There's only one way we can become a member of it, and that's
to be born into it. The church, being a heavenly community
here on earth, is a fellowship of spiritual beings made so by
a spiritual experience of being born of the Spirit of God.
Man, earthly, has been elevated to spiritual life.
He "hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in
heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:6). It's been said
that the only way mineral life can be elevated to a higher
order is for the higher order to do the elevating. The plant
sends its roots down into the soil that's made up of mineral,
and it lifts these elements, assimilates them, and they become
plant life. In the same way plant life can never become animal
life in itself. The animal which is a higher life has the
power to pluck that plant, and it becomes assimilated and
through the animal metabolism becomes an integral part of
animal life. Always it's the life from above lifting the life
below to its level.
Earthly man is born from above and lifted to a spiritual
plane. He's born into the family of God, the church. We can't
join the church; we're born into it.
You say, "What about me? I joined the church." You joined
an organization. Any church you can join is not God's church.
God's people may be found in that organization, and they may
be a part of the organization, but unless they've been born
from above they're not a member of God's church. They're only
associated with the people of God. They're not a part of them.
We cannot join the church.
We can approach Christ, confess our sin to him, repent,
forsake sin, receive forgiveness, and then a new life will
begin in us. A new spirit will be born in our life, and we'll
be changed. When that happens we're born, a new creature, into
God's family and are a member of his