Do you attend church services regularly? Are you a member of a church? If so, why? Over the years, I have learned that most church goers are going to all the wrong churches for all the wrong reasons. "My wife likes it there," one says. Another says, "We have always went there." "They have a good youth program." "My kid's friends go there." "Well, that's just where most people go." "My boyfriend goes there." "They have a large nursery." "I get to sing in the choir." "I teach a Sunday school class." "I like the preacher."
Every reason given above is an UNSCRIPTURAL reason. God never told you to attend "the church of your choice." The devil told you that. God's word is supposed to be your Final Authority in life. God's word is your measuring stick. With God's word you can discern which church is the best church.
The primary issue in choosing a church is DOCTRINE. What does the church believe? No matter how many exciting "programs" the church may have, if they do not believe the right things, then you have no business attending or joining. You are to attend the church of GOD'S CHOICE, not the church of your choice.
Before joining any church, ask for a Statement of Faith and check it carefully. If one is not available, at least speak with the Pastor personally and get answers to the following questions. This concerns YOUR spiritual well- being. You have every right to ask questions. In fact, a genuine Bible-believing Pastor will appreciate you asking doctrinal questions.
The answer to every question should be a very definite "Yes." If the answer is "No" or "I'm not sure," then keep looking because there are better churches to join. A "Yes" answer to each question doesn't guarantee that the church in question will be the best one for you, but it does help you to guard yourself from many of the heresies in our midst.
I. Do you believe God has preserved an infallible copy of His word for us today? Psalm 12:6-7; Mat. 24:35
II. Do you believe the King James Bible is God's infallible word for the English speaking people? If the answer is "No," then ask "What is God's infallible word? Can I see a copy?" See question I.
III. Do you believe that God is a Holy Trinity, consisting of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? I John 5:7; Mat. 28:19
IV. Do you believe that the Lord Jesus Christ was born of a virgin, without a man being involved, and lived a sinless life for thirty-three years as God manifest in the flesh? Isa. 7:14; Mat. 1:23; I Tim. 3:16
V. Do you believe that the Lord Jesus Christ died and paid for our sins on Calvary's cross through the shedding of His own sinless blood? Mat. 26:28; Heb. 9:22; I Tim. 2:5-6; Heb. 10:10- 14; Rom. 5; Rev. 1:5
VI. Do you believe that the Lord Jesus Christ rose physically from the dead for our justification? Rom. 1:4; I Cor. 15:1-4; Rom. 10:9-10; Rev. 1:5; Luke 24:36-39
VII. Do you believe that the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, currently sits at the right hand of God the Father as our High Priest? Heb. 3:1; 4:14-15; 8:1; 10:21
VIII. Do you believe that the Holy Spirit is a Divine Person who convicts the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment? John 16:7-15; 14:15-17
IX. Do you believe that the Holy Spirit is the Supernatural Agent in regeneration, baptizing all believers into the body of Christ? I Cor. 12:13; Mat. 3:11
X. Do you believe that the apostolic sign gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as speaking in tongues and the gift of healing, are not for today, since they were for the purpose of confirming the preached word of God to Israel in the first century? Heb. 2:3-4; II Cor. 12:12; I Cor. 13:8; 1:22; 14:22
XI. Do you believe that all men are born with a sin nature, and that salvation through Christ is needful for all? Rom. 3:10-23; 5:12; 5:8; Isa. 64:6; Psa. 39:5; 51:5; John 3:16; Rom. 10:9-10
XII. Do you believe in the eternal security of those who have received Christ as Saviour? Eph. 4:30; John 10:28-29; Rom. 8:38-39; Philip. 1:6
XIII. Do you believe that the church is the bride of Christ, consisting of all born-again believers? Eph. 5:25-32; Rev. 19:7-8; 21:9
XIV. Do you believe in the autonomy of the local church? It functions alone without any external administration or control. There are no conventions, associations, or hierarchies mentioned in the Bible.
XV. Do you recognize water baptism and the Lord's Supper as Scriptural ordinances of obedience for the church? Mat. 28:18-20; Acts 8:37-38; Mat. 26:26-30; I Cor. 11:23-34
XVI. Do you agree that the majority of professing Christianity is in apostasy, and that true Christians need to practice Biblical separation from such people? II Tim. 3:1-7; II Ths. 2:3; II Cor. 6:14-18; II Tim. 2:20-21
XVII. Do you believe in the literal, physical, imminent Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ? Luke 12:40; Tit. 2:13; Acts 1:11; Rev. 19:11-16; 22:20
XVIII. Do you believe in a literal glorious New Jerusalem for the saved, and in a literal burning Hell for the lost? Rev. 21; 20:15; Mat. 25:41; Luke 16:19-31; John 14:1-3; Gal. 4:26
IXX. Do you believe that Satan is a literal living being who opposes God, and who will be condemned to eternal punishment in the Lake of Fire? Rev. 12:9; Isa. 14:12-15; Ezk. 28:13-17; Job 1:6-12; Rev. 20:10
XX. Do you believe in the literal word-for-word Genesis account of creation? Gen. 1-2; Mat. 19:4; Mark 13:19; John 1:1-3; Heb. 1:1-3; Col. 1:16
What is the Church Doing?
In addition to finding out what a church believes, you should also find out what a church is doing. Many churches believe all the right things, yet they are little more than social clubs. A New Testament church should be a working group of Christian soldiers who strive for three primary goals:
(1) The evangelization of sinners. Lost people need the Gospel, and it is the local church's duty to give it to them. Don't join a church where regular efforts are not being made to turn sinners to Christ. This may be done by door-to-door soul winning, street preaching, tract distribution, jail ministries, nursing home ministries, etc. (Acts 20:20; Luke 14:23)
(2) The edification of the saints. Christians need to grow from the word of God. Don't join a church where such activities as chili suppers, donkey rides, hay rides, skating parties and ball games have taken the place of God's word. The sound preaching and teaching of God's word will produce mature Christian ladies and gentlemen who can go on to live Christ honoring lives. Activities alone will produce carnal babies who will hinder the spiritual growth of the church. (I Peter 2:2)
(3) The glorification of the Saviour. Jesus Christ is the head of the church, and He deserves all the glory. Beware of churches which spend lots of time boasting about their attendance, their ministries, or their offerings. Look for Jesus Christ in a church. If you don't see Him real quick, then look for a better church.(Col. 1:14-18; John 16:13-14)
Also, keep in mind that the size of a church is very seldom an indication of its strength. More often than not, the largest churches in a town are the deadest churches in town. By contrast, there are many small churches which God is using mightily. Never make a decision about a church based solely on its size.
Copyright © 1996 James L. Melton
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