Finding a right church
I want to get into the subject of Christians finding a right church. What do I mean by "a right church"? Finding and joining a group of other saved by grace believers in the Lord Jesus Christ who are pursuing God's righteousness, who are separating from the world in a scripturally balanced way, who are led by a man who's heard from God. I could fine tune that, and of course you're probably already doing it in your mind, but that was really my basic objective, for which I prayed, when I was searching for a church for my family.
Let me, right here at the start, swat away some accusations that I've already had thrown at me, or that I've heard before.
First: I'm aware that there are believers who think that no church measures up to their standards. These believers abandon churchgoing because they feel they're going to be corrupted by false teachers and fake Christians, not seeing or not admitting that they have plenty flaws. I'm not in that group.
Then, there are believers who are in error because they think that the church, the assembly of Christians, is not really necessary. They think you don't need a pastor, an undershepard. They think they can get everything spiritually that they need all by themselves. I'm not in that group, either.
There are believers who know that Christians should be in the body, and who know they need a leaders to guide them, but who are "church hurt." Everybody who's been in a church has some hurt over it, but I'm not in that group, either.
Just understand, if you're reading or listening or consuming this in whatever way, that it is about finding and attending a church that reads, studies, believes and tries to follow Christ in what he tells us to do in his word, in his words. Most churches in the United States are not doing that. They're not. Going to church, to a church, just because you feel obligated to follow that verse in Hebrews no matter what, and yet you know something is wrong in there, but you keep going, is a huge problem. It leads to compromising and that will lead to more sin. If you disagree with what I just said, you're very deceived and I'm going to love you in Christ, from a distance. I already know your counsel is off. Sin leads to death according to God.
When I was in the midst of that search for a Christ-honoring church, and all the churches around would claim that they were Christ-honoring, I did have people poking at me, about being part of an assembly. It's very convicting to know what to do, but having to be patient. The King James Bible gives lots of examples of being patient and waiting on the Lord to move. Not getting ahead of God.
It's very tempting to let yourself be spiritually intimidated and guilty about being part of an assembly of believers. Because being among other Christians is a command, not a suggestion. The fact is, that those people are correct... that as a Christian you should be, it's best for you to be, it's obedience to God that you be, part of a local New Testament church.
But there's also got to be a discerning, a watchfulness. Remember the times that we're living in. Remember that the world in the 21st century is pretty much saturated with deception and evil imagery and speech, so much so that most Christians don't see anything wrong anymore. The only things that most people, including most professed Christians see as wrong are, hurting young children, animals, women, and other than those, preaching against sin, preaching the Bible. Pretty much everything else is okay and should be tolerated.
We've been blinded and hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. The world got us. The world had me, and I'm still and always will be struggling to kick it off of me. But I'm in the fight. I'm in the war. I haven't laid down my shield and sword, God helping me. Some Christians don't know we're in a war, or if they know it intellectually, and they know what the Bible says about spiritual warfare, they treat it like a video game. It's not really real and you can turn it off anytime you wish. It's a battlefield, brother, not a recreation room.
A strong church has a pastor in there, warning the people in there along with telling them that God loves 'em and wants the best for them. Preacher, warn us! Point out the ditches. Point out the enemies of Christ, who are enemies of us if we actually love Christ, right? Don't let us in the church just skip through this thing, thinking the world is pretty much okay when it's in the lap of the devil. The course of the world is headed to hell. Turned into hell like the nations that forget God.
We know that the world, the unbelievers, those who reject the Lord Jesus Christ and are currently on their way to hellfire... or what the Bible calls the lost... hate the true New Testament church. Those people in the world who you want to like you? They hate the God that you claim. They're led by and influenced by Satan, who hates the church. Satan hated the church before it was the church as we know it.
I'm not part of that group that despises Christ's true church. Disclaimer up front. I'm not passing this message to step upon the church. And understand that the true church is not the same as the Roman Catholic religious organization. Here, we are speaking of the real church as described in the King James Bible. What does the Bible say a church is? Let's find out from scripture, quickly.
What is the true church? According to the Bible: Ground and pillar of truth. Matthew chapter 16 has Jesus building his church upon the rock of Peter's revelation. Not upon Peter himself in any way but what Peter confessed. That means the church belongs to Jesus Christ. He paid for it with his own blood, literally and figuratively.
We know the church is Christ's body. We know that because the Bible tells us so. If you have faith there's no need to guess. You absolutely believe what you're reading. We know humans believing in Jesus can't be absolute but that's our striving.
We could get into other pictures of what the church is. Jesus is coming back for his bride, which is the church. Issac's father sending the servant to fetch Rebekah. There are a number of illustrations for what the church is and what it means to the Lord Jesus. The church is very important to Him. Is the church important to Jesus? "Upon this rock, I will build my church." It's His.
We understand that there is a lot more to it than what I'm saying here. The church is in other words an assembly, a group of like-minded people, "ekklesia", and really it seems that the true definition of the word goes beyond a religious thing, that's how we think about church when you say the word, church. But it's, at base, just a group of people who get together for something. The Bible church is that, but there's more added into it... the bottom line here, my point today, is, a Christian who wants to obey the Lord by finding other believers to be around, and seeing that it's a church that pleases the Lord. The many illustrations of the church are too large for this message.
If you can't get the truth in a church in the 21st century, you aren't going to get it too many places. The truth is in the Bible and everybody and everything that disagrees with the Bible is wrong. Just saying that will turn off many Christians, because they've been spending time in Hollywood and Disney and popular music, and they've been programmed to doubt and even mock the Bible.
God hasn't let us know of any plans to get rid of the church, even though it's going through some pains and some deception. There is a remnant and always will be. There was always a true church that wasn't part of the Roman Catholic religious organization. Nor was that true church a part of the Protestants. There's a line of believers going back to Christ that never came out of that.
I know that there are saved people in the Catholic Church and in all the denominational and non-denominational churches. But they are dots, they are exceptions to the rule probably in all but the very best churches which are also exceptions, and the rule is a whole lot of professing Christians who don't believe the Bible is actually true and actually the word of the living God.
So, again, I'm not criticizing the church as an institution that God loves, or anything of that sort. I am trying to avoid the errors and outright deception of what men have done with the church.
Any Christian who has spent much time in churches has some level of "church hurt" which makes some believers want to abandon church altogether. That's not what's going on here. I just want to find out what the word, the words, of God say about everything, including what a pleasing church is in His eyes. Then, let's get about following that. It's too simple.
The real Christ follower not only wants to obey God by being accountable to a real, in person local church, but he has something of a hunger to be around other believers. We need the instruction and the encouragement, and, of course, God knows it.
This message and others related to it are meant more to ask and answer some questions that we don't usually hear touched on by ministries or preachers. Finding a right church.
The first Bible we think of on this subject is usually Hebrews, chapter 10. "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching."
We ought to be glad, even excited, to see other believers. sometimes Christians are busy dissecting and criticizing each other's flaws or perceived flaws, and it corrupts whatever fellowship you've got going on. If we treated one another like brothers and sisters, like the family God says we are, it would be different.
But the world mocks the church's flaws, and the sad part is, the church displays such flaws because the church people are sitting before the world's favorite people and learning a lot of things God hates. God hates pride. God hates covetuousness. If you practice those things and others which the world exalts, if you approve and bless the unbelievers who are out there chasing glory for themselves, God is angry with you.
So we don't want to avoid fellowshipping with other believers. God is displeased by that. God knows that when we're around other believers who are sound in teh faith, we'll push one another to better fellowship with the Lord Himself. Iron sharpeneth iron. That sound brother or sister will help bring things to your remembrance. That sound pastor, he's going to open up things from scripture that you can't get on your own.
We also want to please him by finding believers who are actually striving to be obedient believers, to fellowship with. That right and fit fellowship with Christians encourages, exhorts, edifies. It builds in ways we can't even see right now. People who correctly say that a professing believer in Christ should find a church and go there consistently, and they use Hebrews 10 25 to make that, again correct, argument, usually clip the passage short.
I've noticed over years in the faith that we tend to clip verses. It's not for the sake of time that people do that. It is so that we can tailor the Bible to our own thinking, our own experience. But the Bible says, we as humans, as men and women, as believers, aren't very smart nor are we wise. The believer is compared to sheep, and it's well known how simple they can be.
The lost people think they're really smart. People who do not glorify God as God are not smart! We can say a lot about that, but for now, that's all that a Christian should need. Once you stop glorifying God as God, and you even know God but stop giving him the glory, you begin a descent into hell. No way around that.
Most Christians think we are smart, too. It's really evidence of our unthankful nature. We think we built this! There was a political divide about the phrase "you didn't build that", used by President Obama in 2012. The president was throwing shots at Republicans and/or right wingers. "If you have a business, you didn't build that." Anyway, I can use that phrase as an illustration--we didn't build this, this reality, this earth, this life, this universe. God holds it all together. We ought to be thanking Him evermore than we already do, if we do. I hope and pray that you thank God, not in the ironic and disrespectful and sometimes blasphemous way in which most people do.
We think we are spiritual enough, whether Christian or part of all the other faiths which are false according to Jesus, who said, I am the way the truth and the life and no man come to the Father except by me. Spiritual enough that we can figure this thing out. We imagine that devils unseen to the natural eye are fleeing through walls at the sight of us kneeling to pray.
But God says, lean not to your own understanding. This is so basic and direct we can't even understand that! "Stop thinking you know something and just trust my wisdom because I know everything because I made everything." And we all disobey that to some level. We don't believe Him. The difference is that some of us actually know that this is wrong.
Many people, including many in churches every week, think that mixing our own experience into it is a good thing. Obviously you learn not to touch hot stoves or things like that, you know how to network with people or whatever keeps you from harm or benefits you. That's not what we mean here.
We're talking about looking at plain scripture in the Bible, seeing that it tells us to do something or not to do something else, and consciously disobeying it because we are more progressive, this is a different time, people are smarter now and more evolved, or whatever trash you're using to say that God told us wrong.
There are some in the faith who say that people who openly justify disobeying God may not even be saved. Maybe if you claim that the Lord gives us liberty to pretty much do anything as long as you profess his name, you're living under a false profession. Of course we aren't qualified to judge the wheat from the tares.
But we can judge someone's words and actions. those speak to who you are, who your father is. I mean if you're carrying a severed hand around for fun, if you verbally blaspheme Jesus and use profanity on a regular basis, I'm gonna doubt that you have the Holy Ghost living inside of you. I don't care if you got fifty crucifixes around your neck.
The same goes for churches. What are you following?
These are difficult things to talk about. People get offended when it's suggested or straight out said, that they aren't being true to God. Except the Bible speaks of professing believers who have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof. You only get to there by being deceived. You get deceived when the preacher, the pastor, won't say certain things from the Bible, because he is a people-pleaser. Over time, that preacher cream puff type preaching will soften the faith of the people listening to him. I've been there and been leavened because I didn't study to shew myself approved.
Thessalonians speaks of a great apostasy, a falling away from the truth, which I take partly to mean, a falling away from the word of God, i.e., the Bible itself.
Going away from the Bible is the main reason for that falling away if you think about it. People can't swallow the Bible. In the last days, they will not be able to endure sound doctrine. We're here. Most church-going Americans would spit on the floor, if you just read the printed words of 1st Timothy chapter 3, or Titus chapters 1 and 2. Sound doctrine divides, and most people say that as a bad thing. The dividing of sheep from goats is a good thing. The dividing of people who heard Jesus when he said, If you love me, keep my commandments, from people who always slick over those parts, where Jesus is telling them what to do. "I follow Jesus! He said, love thy neighbor, and I feed homeless people and give to charity." Love goes beyond your good works for those in need. True biblical love includes correction and even chastening, that is, punishment, that is, judgment.
The famous professing Christians you're thinking of right now? They can't stand against anything the world does because the world gives them their money and status. If they ever did stand, you won't hear a lot from them. And these famous Christians so-called are loved by millions of Christians who are going to be led into that falling away, deceived right along with the lost people of the world.
A lot of that comes from churches and pastors and preachers not being direct with people about the devil's devices. All the things that are harming our spiritual health in the true and living God of Abraham Issac and Jacob need to be exposed to the light of the word.
Patting each other on the back no matter what is going to condemn a lot of people. But that's being done to get people into the church seats.
The local New Testament bible believing church is meant to evangelize lost people out there in the world, and then bring them into the church. But what we usually see as I speak, in October 2018, is churches inviting lost people in so that they can then evangelize.
Now to get them inside the church building, and they're lost, there's got to be some kinds of attraction that has to cater to the world. Feed them, play some music for them, tickle their ears with spiritual talk that has some psychology expert quotes and watered down bible verses mixed in. I've heard people call that called a fish and loaves ministry.
As the husband, the father, I had to start answering some tough questions. Is it okay to go to a church you're convicted about on a scriptural level? If I'm going by the world's version of love and peace, I'm going to fellowship with just about anyone. If I'm going by the Bible, there's gonna be a separation from people who cast God's word aside. That's when the answer becomes no, and probably the biggest reason why is, the Christian who actually wants to obey the Lord and His book to us, is going to start practice biblical separation without even calling it that. The world and almost every Christian church in America thinks biblical separation is an abomination.
Now, none of us is perfect in the way that we usually define perfect. We understand this. But the Bible describes "being perfect" more as, complete in Christ. Part of that version of "perfect" is chasing the truth of the word of God. And the word of God being the judge, a lot of what goes on in 21st century churches is a shame or at least in error.
As believers, we do need to attend a local, New Testament, bible-believing church in person... we need to read the Bible and pray for discernment, so that we can locate one of those churches and find out if that church is spirit-filled or if it has an appearance of godliness, and if the second one, go out of there, no matter how nice everybody is... and once we get into a right, fit church, we need stay in there to exhort and encourage one another.
Again, it's not about individuals or churches doing everything right. Disclaimers. It is not about going around finding fault in everybody and everything. It is about obeying the Bible because we love and fear God. Sometimes that makes the world angry. Sometimes when we obey the Bible and are stubborn about it, that makes other Christians angry. If you don't know that, know that going in. The Bible told you it was going to happen. right there, 2nd Timothy: "all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."
Whether it is a person or a church: If you're not suffering any persecution for your life in Christ, if you are never the outcast because there's something you won't do for Christ's sake, then you need to examine yourself to see where you are in the faith. We all need to do that anyway. But the fact that no one ever even knows you're a Christian because you're so like everyone else in the world.
So, we know He's got grace and mercy to spare, and we also know He holds this whole thing together, and no matter how thrilled I am at being a son of God, I ain't gonna be presumptous with the Lord of everything. I have reverence AND godly fear.
Maybe you have been attending somewhere and now have been convicted by the new light you've received from the Lord. You are looking around at your church and realizing that the pastor and the elders and the denomination are consciously, openly going against the Bible. Do you stay for the sake of old friends and family connections and being able to say "I went to church"?
Do you continue to go to a church that you can discern is compromised, planning to find a more obedient church later? Just so there won't be a gap in your churchgoing? I know people all along the spectrum of the answers to these questions.
Do I listen to all of you who say "there's no perfect church, and YOU ain't perfect, brother Darryl, if there was a perfect church they wouldn't have you, so what's the problem?"
Now I have heard a lot of Christians who would run me down saying these things, when I start contending for the Bible and what the word commands. I honestly used to view those men who held to the King James Bible as the literal, infalliable, preserved word of God as fanatics. Now I've become one of those men, and I realize that I am a fanatic after all. It's true, in a good way. It's the bread of life.
The problem is, at least for the Christian who tells me to just get into a church that has a cross on the building and "Christ" or "Jesus" or "Lord" in the title, the problem is, once that Bible starts giving you some discernment, you begin to take on some of what makes God, God. You start to despise wickedness, first of all in yourself. It was years ago, and then again years after I first made a profession of faith and got baptized... I remember getting a kind of glimpse of all the darkness in myself, a quick snapshot of how I might look from God's holy eyes. And I remember being horrified and humbled. Job, Behold I am vile.
I understood that every man and woman shared that condition in a real way for the first time. And how much we need Jesus Christ. You can go to church so long and latch onto that spiritual talk so tight, that it is just all words to you after a while. Except it's real. When God really shows you it's real, you can truly start changing. We need help from a pastor who believes that there even is a word of God that we have access to, start there, and pray that he can break it down into bite-sized chunks for those of us that are really hungry and thirsty for the truth, which comes in a person, Jesus Christ.
Lord willing, we'll be publishing more of these messages. I have been taking notes as I talked to pastors and preachers and bible teachers in my area. I would like to share that with the believers out there very much. Very instructive, and that locks in with what we're talking about right now here in 2018 as we witness the apostasy. I dont want to be a part of the falling away.
Lord God, Father in Heaven, thank you for allowing me space and grace to be here talking to the brothers and sisters in Christ, however they're consuming this. You love us, and if we really love you back, we'll be obedient to you by knowing what you said, believing it, and finally following it. Thank you for being God and please keep us humble, move the message and your words where you want it to go. In Christ's name, Amen.
related: finding a right church, apostate dodging