Does it make any difference what church we are a member of and work with? Is one just as good as the next? We are told by many today, "Join the church of your choice." The selection is amazing! There are large groups, small groups, charismatic groups, not so charismatic groups, formal groups, informal groups..... The question we need to ask is not, which groups do I want to assemble with, but rather, which groups would God have me assemble with.
Consider some criteria which ought not be used to find a place of worship.
1. Popularity. Size is not a sign of faithfulness. Remember the 12 spies who went to Canaan? The majority reported they could not conquer the people of the land. The majority was wrong. Jesus tells us clearly that the majority are hellbound (Matthew 7:13-14, 21-23). We must be careful of majorities, even (or perhaps especially) when it comes to religion.
2. Convenience. I used to go to a religious group which was only two doors away from home. It was certainly conveniently located, however, the group was doctrinally wrong. Convenience can never be used as a determining factor of where we assemble to worship the Lord.
3. Comfort. We all like a good atmosphere, comfortable seating, etc.. If we want a comfortable place, buy a good chair to place in the living room. If we want a place to worship, find a church that teaches and practices what God's word says.
4. Habit. Some folks will attend a specific religous group "because we always have", or "because that's where mom and dad went", etc.. Never should something be done simply because that's what has always been done. We must do what is right, and do it because it is right.
5. I like the preacher. Dangerous!! The apostle Peter warned of teachers who use flowerly words and appeal to man (2 Peter 2:18-22). We must assemble for the message, not the messenger!
There are certain criteria which we ought to use in finding a place to worship.
We must find a church which:
1. Has a proper relationship to Christ.
* He is the builder (Matthew 16:18). And note, He only built one!
* He is the head (Colossians 1:18). His doctrines should be taught and practiced (Matthew 15:8).
* He purchased it (Acts 20:28). Ownership is His, therefore all glory goes to Him.
2. Was established at the right time and place.
* The Lord's church was established in Jerusalem, on the first Pentecost after the resurrection (Acts 2).
* If a church (religion) claims some other start, it is not His.
* Notice, for membership, God added to the church; man did not join, nor was he voted in.
3. Worships according to the New Testament pattern.
* Lord's supper each Sunday (Acts 20:7)
* Free will offering on the Lord's day, not tithing (1 Corinthians 16:1-2; 2 Corinthians 9:6-7)
* Music is vocal, not instrumental (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16; 1 Corinthians 14:15)
* Prayer is given to God (Matthew 6:9-13; Acts 7:59), not to the 'saints'.
* God's word is taught (Acts 2:42), not doctrines of men/creeds (Galatians 1:6-9)
4. Teaches the same plan to save man that the early church (New Testament)
* Faith (Hebrews 11:6; Romans 10:17), a good start, but can't stop there!
* Repentance (Acts 3:19; 17:30-31), turn away from sins (Romans 6:1-2).
* Confession of Christ (Matthew 10:32-33; Romans 10:10)
* Baptism for remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 1 Peter 3:21)
* Live faithful (Revelation 2:10; 1 Corinthians 10:12) Don't fall back!!!
5. Wears a scriptural name.
* Once asked a woman if she'd mind me calling her Bob. She did!!!
* The Lord's church wears the name the Lord gave it (1 Corinthians 1:2; Romans 16:16)
* Members are Christians, nothing else (Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16)
Finding the right church is a life and death situation (Matthew 16:24-26). Sincere faith is not evidence of salvation, but rather, obedience to the perfect will of God. Jesus only established one church. Let us be sure that we have been added to the Lord's church, in the Lord's way, and that we are worshiping and working with the Lord's people. The Scriptures are the measuring rod. It establishes which churches are of Christ and which are not.
Is the church you are attending the Lord's, or is a counterfeit?
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