Help Me Choose A Church
Here’s a question that someone posted on Facebook last week.. I have a friend, a single older lady, who just moved here from Iowa, and she’s looking for a church to join. She’s used to a not so large church. What church do you go to, and what do you like best about it?
Now, the last time I checked, there were about 45 answers and comments in response to this question. Let me read several of those answers and comments..
Grace Fellowship. Amazing place of worship. Wonderful people!!
I grew up in Calvary Chapel. Small but undeniably friendly. Always welcome, always warm with some of the most genuine good hearted folk you could ever meet.
Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church. It is a beautiful church and has a welcoming, warm, and very active congregation. It is a wonderful place to worship our Lord!
Story community church and Grace Fellowship are small and welcoming.
St Luke’s Lutheran on north Burritt has a smaller personal feel, we would love to have her join us. We also have a small bell choir if she would be interested.
Summit Church, you can feel the almighty when you walk thru the door. Three services most Sundays.
Don’t forget to visit Summit Wesleyan on north main.
Great worship music and biblical preaching and super friendly folks.
New Life Assembly. The pastor loves God and loves his people. The spirit of God is there. The church has a smaller congregation!
And one person wrote.. You need to visit the church that teaches the truth about the Almighty God. Not the one that has the prettiest flowers etc.
The bible says, cramped is the road leading to life, few find it. Chances are the true religion will have relatively few compared to false religion.
Whoever wrote that last comment is right about the fact that wherever we worship, they need to be teaching the truth. But he’s just a little confused about what the bible says concerning the road that leads to life. The bible doesn’t say that the road is “cramped”, but that the road is straight and narrow. There’s plenty of room for anyone who wants to be on that road, there just isn’t any room for variance, from the word of God.
But at any rate. What’s one of the things that you noticed, that almost everyone said about their particular “church”?
What I noticed was that almost everyone mentioned how nice the people are. Some of the words used were; Friendly, welcoming, kind, good-hearted, warm, genuine, personal, wonderful. So then that’s obviously one of the biggest drawing points for a church; The people of the congregation need to be friendly and kind, and it needs to show! We all might be wise to keep that in mind.
One person mentioned that they had “biblical preaching” at their church. One of them said that their “pastor”, “preaches from the bible”. There’s no substitute for that, is there?
One of the comments said that “the Spirit of God was there”, and another one said that “you can feel the Almighty when you walk thru the door”. I’ll tell you what though, no matter how it “feels”, the only way the Spirit of God is going to be there, is if the church is worshipping according to God’s word.
Jesus said in Mathew 18, verse 20; “For where two or three are gathered, in My name, there am I in the midst of them.” But the key is; “In My name” (in other words, “by My authority”) Our gathering MUST be, by the authority of God, which means, according to His word. Then and only then, will the Lord be there.
What’s Important to Us, Isn’t Always What’s Important to God
Some of the other things mentioned in the comments were, great worship music (which I know includes a band), coffee, sweets, and visiting. There’s several different things that appeal to people isn’t there? But I noticed one thing that was missing from all the comments. No one said a word about salvation. No one said that the reason they attend where they attend, was because of salvation. Two people did mention the idea of “the Spirit of God”, but no one said anything about salvation.
Why do you think that is? Why wouldn’t that be the very first thing on people’s minds, when it comes to deciding which church to attend? Where am I going to find salvation? Not.. What is going to appeal to my physical senses, and to my emotions. The question needs to be, Where can I find salvation, and where can I maintain my salvation?
I think I know the reason why that wasn’t on anyone’s mind. It’s because no one thinks that where you attend worship service, has anything to do with salvation. Most people simply believe that everyone who acknowledges that Jesus, is saved, and that’s all that matters.
And if that were true, that you were saved simply because you acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ, then why would it matter where you worship, or if indeed you worship at all? It wouldn’t matter, would it? And if that were all that mattered, then that would mean that the majority of the bible is nothing but a bunch of wasted words.
Think about it; How much of the bible is related to proving that Jesus is the Christ? I suppose that Mathew, Mark, Luke and John are really the only books that are devoted to proving that Jesus is the Christ. It’s like John wrote on John 20, verses 30 & 31; “Many other signs therefore did Jesus, in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written, that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing, you may have life in His name.”
The rest of the bible, could pretty much be summed up as “doctrine”. But if doctrine doesn’t matter, then most of the bible is useless, it’s a waste of time and space. You might as well just throw away all those other books of the bible, and just keep Mathew, Mark, Luke and John. Quit wasting all your time with this talk about “doctrine”, and go ahead a praise God any way you want. That’s how the vast majority of people feel, and that’s how the saying came about.. “Attend the church of your choice”.
Probably the greatest fallacy in religion, is that you have the freedom to choose.. If and when and how, you worship God. But that’s exactly WHY we need the “whole” bible, especially the “whole” new testament. Because throughout the new testament, God gives us the instructions concerning, IF we should worship God, and concerning WHEN we should worship God, and concerning HOW we should worship God.
It’s recorded in Luke 4, verse 8, that Jesus said; “You shall worship the Lord your God, and worship Him only!” I guess that takes care of the “IF” part of it. “You SHALL worship the Lord your God!”
And of course the “When” part of it is answered in two different verses. 1 Corinthians 16, verse 2 says; “Upon the first day of the week, let each one of you lay by him in store..” And then Acts 20, verse 7 says; “And upon the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread..”
But the “If” and the “When” aren’t really the point of this lesson, but the point is the “how”. “How” are we to worship God, upon the first day of the week. The bible tells us “how” we are to worship God; And if we learn “how” to acceptably worship God, that will in turn answer the question of “where” should I attend, when I attempt to worship God.
Jesus tells us in John 4, verse 24; “..they that worship God, MUST worship in Spirit and in truth.” And that part about worshipping in truth, is what we’re talking about, when we ask “How” are we to worship. God’s word is truth (John 17:17) and that word of truth tells us “how” to worship God acceptably. We know that there is such a thing as “vain worship”, because that’s what Jesus tells us in Mathew 15, verse 9; “But in VAIN do they worship Me, teaching for doctrine, the commandments of men.”
When people attempt to worship God according to their own methods, that falls into the category of “teaching for doctrine, the commandments of men.” God has given us, His “doctrine” concerning how we should worship Him today. It’s different from the “doctrine” of worship in the old testament, under the law of Moses, given to the nation of Israel. Today’s doctrine of worship, has been given to us by the Holy Spirit of God, in the new testament, under the law of Christ.
The two problems people have today with their worship, is that they confuse the doctrine of the old testament, with the doctrine of the new testament, and also, people are simply intent on worshipping God by their own personal methods, rather than adhering to God’s specific commands.
Is Worship Related to Salvation ?
But what difference does it make, as long as we’re worshipping God, right? Wrong! “They that worship God, MUST worship in spirit, and in TRUTH.” The word “truth” refers to the word of God, and nothing else. No additions, no subtractions, but the word of God only. That’s what truth is. It’s not “subjective”. In other words, truth doesn’t depend on our feelings or on the circumstances, or the society in which we live. “Thy word is truth”.
But what’s the big deal? Is God going to send us to hell, because we refuse to do what He tells us to do? Is God going to send us to hell, because we refuse to worship Him, according to truth?
Let me read this statement, from 2 John, verse 9; “Anyone who goes beyond, and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does NOT have God.”
Now, according to the bible, if you do not have God, then you do not have salvation either. God said, as recorded in Isaiah 43, verse 11; “I, even I, am the Lord, and besides Me, there is no savior.”
No savior besides the Lord our God. No savior, no salvation. If we go beyond the teaching of Christ, which is the entire new testament, we go beyond salvation, and we need to return. We cannot be saved, simply being the “good Samaritan” that the bible says we need to be. We can’t be saved WITHOUT being that “good Samaritan”, but you cannot be saved, by only being that “good” person. You MUST worship the Lord in spirit, and in truth.
Imagine if you would, walking hand in hand with God, caring for others, and helping to “bear their burdens”, and “doing good to all men, as you have opportunity”, and then Sunday rolls around, the Lord’s day, as it’s called in Revelation 1, verse 10. And on that day, you let go of the Lord’s hand, and you say, Lord, I have to leave you today. I want to worship you, but I can’t just worship in spirit and in truth. I’ve got to make it more emotional. I’ve got to have my physical senses stimulated, not just my spirit.
I’ve got to hear a band playing, and a choir singing, and hands clapping, and feet stomping. I’ve got to be up-lifted, and your way just doesn’t do it for me.
Can we all pray that especially on the Lord’s day, we don’t go “too far”, and that we don’t “go beyond”, the teaching of Christ? Because if we go too far, and don’t abide in the doctrine of Christ, then we won’t have God. And if we don’t have God, then we won’t have salvation either.
Let’s make it our goal, to hear what the bible says, and to believe every word of it, and to abide, in it alone. “The one who abides in the teaching of Christ, has both the Father and the Son.” (once again, 2 John, verse 9)
If we don’t get up-lifted, and stimulated, doing it the Lord’s way, then we’ve got some serious “soul-searching” to do. And so, would you do that?
And would you hear the word, and believe that Jesus is the Christ? Would you confess your faith in Jesus, and repent of your sins, and be baptized for the forgiveness of those sins? And would you remain faithful, every day of your life, and would you worship the Lord our God, in spirit, and in truth, every Lord’s day? Not going beyond, and not falling short of the Lord’s instructions.
The invitation is yours, and we stand and sing our closing hymn.