Tuesday, April 8, 2014

May I Choose Your Church?

May I choose your church? You don't mind do you? You don't care about the preacher that much do you, as long as I like his style and delivery? Do you care about the size of the church that much, the relative friendliness of the congregation, or the programs they may or may not offer? And as far as doctrine, does that really matter? I promise: no snake handlers. What about the worship? Does that matter to you? Do you care if they have a rock band or a choir or maybe neither? I mean, as long as I like the church, would you let me decide which one is for you?

I doubt that anyone would be very comfortable with letting someone else pick their religion or congregation for them. So here is the point. If it is not right for me to decide about the church, why is it right for you to decide? In the twenty-first century state of the religious world, one of the biggest errors that prevails is the consumer-like approach that appeals to the church of one's choice. Most people go where they feel "comfortable." The largest growing churches in population are "needs-based." They promise to serve you and make you happy. They promise not to hurt your feelings. They want to make sure that everything is just as you want it. Friends, I am sorry, but this is not the Bible's description of the church that Jesus built.

But a decision does have to be made. How does one properly choose when it comes to the church? The first principle involves realizing that it is not really your choice to make, because it is not really your church. The only person who ever referred to the church as "My church" was Jesus (Matt. 16:18). He purchased the church with His own blood (Acts 20:28). Members of the Biblical body of Christ do not even belong to themselves anymore, because they were bought at a price (1 Cor. 6:19-20). So in effect, no one has ever truly "joined" the church. We submit to the perfect will of God and He, by His grace and according to His own plan and pattern adds us to it (Acts 2:38-47).

There is only one map that will lead you to the church of God's choice. That map is the Bible. If a person is genuinely interested in finding the church that Jesus built, the only way to find it is to consult the New Testament. But our world is upside down! We want the church to determine what the Scriptures mean, rather than the Scriptures to determine what the church means! God's word came first. His word alone can accurately and authoritatively tell us about the church.

An honest Bible student by sincere and diligent study will be led to the church of the Bible. Here's a challenge: Do some serious Bible study. Study about the organization of the New Testament church. Study about the worship of the New Testament church. Study about the names of the New Testament church. Study about how people become converted to Christ and enter into the New Testament church. If you will study these topics with an open and honest heart, you may have to leave the church you currently attend. You may have to search from congregation to congregation until you find a church that is the Lord's church and not a church that was instituted or organized by the doctrine of men.

Jesus said, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven" (Matt. 7:21). He also said, "Every plant which My Father has not planted will be uprooted" (Matt. 15:13). Jesus is the only foundation and the only builder of the house of God (Acts 4:12; 1 Cor. 3:11). There is only one church (Eph. 4:4-6). It is the church of the New Testament. It is the church Jesus shed His blood to create. It is the church the apostles helped to establish on the day of Pentecost. It is the church organized according to the New Testament pattern. It is the church that wears a Biblical name. It is the church that has only as its doctrine the doctrine of Christ. It is the church that worships God's way, not man's way. It is the church that has no other desire than to belong to and to glorify Christ.

God is not going to ask the question I asked. He is not going to ask if He can choose your church for you. He chose His church for Himself. But He has extended to you the invitation to be a part of it. If that day ever comes when you understand what the Bible truly teaches about the church, it will be one of the most important days of your life. It will change everything. Obedience to that knowledge will bring inexpressible joy and a peace that passes all understanding. It will give your life true meaning and purpose, and the confidence of the hope of eternal life.

"There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." ~ Ephesians 4:4-6