by Dave Hart
Does it make any difference what church we are a member of? Is one just as good as the next? Newspapers today tell us to “Join the Church of your choice.” The selection is amazing! There are large groups, small groups, charismatic groups, not so charismatic groups. Groups who use creed books, groups who don’t. Groups who use the Old and New Testament, groups who use only one or the other. The question we need to ask is not, which group do I want to assemble with, but rather, which group would God have me assemble with?
CRITERIA NOT TO USE IN FINDING A PLACE OF WORSHIP:
- Popularity. Size is no sign of faithfulness. Remember the 12 spies who went down to Canaan? The majority reported they could not conquer the land. The majority was wrong. We must be careful of majorities. The majority of the time, they are wrong.
- Convenience. I used to go to a religious group which was 2 doors down from my home. It was conveniently located, but doctrinally wrong!
- Comfort. We all like a good atmosphere, comfortable seats, etc., but if these are the things that cause us to go to a certain place of worship, we might as well stay at home.
- Habit. The saddest thing to hear someone say is, we’ve always gone there. You shouldn’t do something because you always did it that way, rather, because it is right to do.
- I like the preacher. Dangerous!!! Peter warns of teachers who have flowery words, and appeal to us greatly. He called the false prophets! Listen to the message, not the messenger.
CRITERIA TO USE IN FINDING A PLACE OF WORSHIP:
A Proper Relationship To Christ:
- He is the builder (Mt 16:18). Note, He only built one. Truth is an absolute!
- He is the head (Col 1:18). His doctrine should be taught and practiced (Mt 15:8).
- He purchased it (Ac 20:28). Ownership is His, therefore all glory goes to Him.
Established At The Right Time And Place:
- Jerusalem, AD 33, on the day of Pentecost (Ac 2:1-47)
- Note, for membership, God added to the church, man did not join, nor was he voted in!
Worship Is According To The New Testament Pattern:
- Lord’s Table each Sunday (Ac 20:7). Note, each week has a first day!
- Give as prospered (1 Cor 16:1-2; 2 Cor 9:6-7). Note, a free will offering, not tithing.
- Sing (Eph 5:19). We have no scriptural authority to use instruments in worship.
- Pray to the Lord (Mt 6:9; Ac 7:59), not to saints.
- Study God’s word (Ac 2:42), no other doctrines, creeds (Gal 1:6-9)
Same Plan Of Salvation Taught As The 1st Century (NT) Church:
- Faith (Heb 11:6; Ro 10:17). A good start, but we can’t stop here!
- Repentance (Lk 13:3; Ac 17:30-31). Turn away from sins (Ro 6:1-2).
- Confession (Mt 10:32-33; Ro 10:10). The church is built upon it (Mt 16:16).
- Baptized (Mk 16:16; Ac 2:38; 1 Pe 3:21)
- Live faithful (Rev 2:10). One can fall from grace (1 Ti 4:1ff; 2 Ti 4:10; 2 Pe 2:20ff).
A Scriptural Name:
- 1 Co 1:2; Ro 16:16. If we are to be the New Testament church, we ought to use New Testament names.
- Note, just having a scriptural name does not make a church the New Testament church, just as one calling himself a Christian does not make him a Christian. Obedience to the will of God is key.
- Simply called Christians (Ac 11:26; 26:28; 1 Pe 4:16). No fancy names used, just Christian.
Finding the right church is a life and death decision (Mt 16:26). Sincere faith is not evidence of salvation, but rather obedience to the perfect will of God is. Jesus only established one church. Let us be sure that we have been added to that church! We have the Scriptures, the standard, the measuring rod. Let that be what determines what churches are of Christ or not!