When a person asks, "Which church is the true church?" he or she is often asking which denomination is correct. Is the true church Baptist? Episcopalian? Pentecostal? It's a good question, but it's important to understand that the church is not a visible building or organization. Rather, the true church is the family of all those who have faith in Jesus Christ and are born again by the power of the Holy Spirit (John 3:3).
The New Testament defines the church in two distinct ways. First, the church comprises all believers. This is often called the universal church. Second, the New Testament also uses the word church in the sense of a local group of believers who meet together to worship God. For example, there is the church at Jerusalem (Acts 8:1), the church at Ephesus (Revelation 2:1), and the church which met in Nympha's house (Colossians 4:15). Together, saved members of local churches are part of the universal church.
The wide variety of churches today can make sorting out the truth difficult. The Roman Catholic Church claims to be the only true church. So does the Mormon Church. Protestants reject those claims of exclusivity and view the church as all people who have faith in Jesus Christ. Even among Protestant denominations, there is diversity regarding beliefs and practices.
Does any one church or denomination possess all the truth in every detail? Probably not. But there are churches which have more of the truth than others. The Word of God is the basis for evaluation of any church or church group. Do the church's teachings show fidelity to Scripture? Do the church's leaders meet the requirements of 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1? Does the pastor "hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine" (Titus 1:9)? Are the church's members devoted to the Word, to "the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers" (Acts 2:42)? If these questions can be answered "yes," then the church is most likely a "true" one.
Of course, being a member of a Bible-teaching local church is important (Hebrews 10:25). But more important than joining a church is knowing you are born again (2 Corinthians 13:5). No church can save you. Only Jesus saves, by grace through faith in His death and resurrection (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 10:9-10).
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