I just finished looking at a Facebook page of one of the popular churches in our area and it made me want to cry. It also reminded me why some churches are so popular. I’m not going into detail trying to explain that at this time. I simply want to warn you that popularity and/or personal preference should never be our standard. Sadly most church goers today don’t even know what the standard is. As long as they enjoy the services they are satisfied, regardless of how unscriptural the church might be.
It’s heartbreaking to see so many nice, well-meaning, sincere people trapped in a web of lies— without ever realizing it. Here’s the problem. Churches are filled with people who have never been grounded in God’s Word. In fact, many aren’t even sure where the Word of God is found. For them any and all versions of the Bible are fine and dandy– even though one contradicts the other!
It amazes me that people criticize us for using only the King James Version when the greatest preachers and churches of the past did the same thing. Were they all wrong? Some would say,”Yeah, but we now have better translations”. Really? So, you’re telling me that those in the past generations who used the KJV were using inferior translations, something less than perfect? How did you arrive at that conclusion? Have you studied the history of the Bible and the formation of the KJV? If not, how do you know you are right? And how do you explain the fact that the modern translations contradict the KJV– and each other? They can’t all be right. Right? How then can you look your neighbor in the eye, with the Bible in your hand, and say, “This is the infallible word of God”? If it has errors anyplace seems to me that we can’t trust it anywhere.
Now, getting back to the original issue, I said earlier,”–popularity and/or personal preference should never be our standard”. So what is? The standard by which all things should be judged is the truth. If we don’t choose what is right we have chosen what is wrong. And if you don’t know the difference you will error in your ways– you will be governed by the world, the flesh, and the devil.
When selecting a church there are a lot of questions that need to be answered. The church might have a pastor who is eloquent in speech, but is he sound in doctrine? A church might have a dynamic choir, but does it teach the truth? A church might have a storied history, but was it started scripturally? A church might have an exciting youth program, but are the members becoming more knowledgeable of God’s Word? The church might be benevolent in some regards, but does it follow the N.T. pattern for missions? The list could go on and on. If you don’t know the answers to these questions, don’t you think you should find out? If the answers aren’t in keeping with what the Bible teaches, don’t you think you ought to get out? If you are confused about this, don’t you think you ought to figure it out?
Being where God wants you to be is important. Your choice should be made with great care, much prayer, and in consideration of what the Bible teaches. Some of the most talented speakers I’ve ever heard were not even Christians. Some of the best music I’ve ever heard was not in a church. Some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met were not church members. Some of the most exciting things I’ve ever experienced were not while seated in a church pew (did you ever watch a trophy buck sneaking through the woods at day break or catch a 10 pound bass?). So I must not allow these things to influence my decision concerning the church I join. If it doesn’t teach the truth and practice the truth it’s not for me—and it shouldn’t be for you either. Certainly no church is perfect, but any true church will have certain characteristics by which it can be identified. It is your responsibility to look for them.
The three most important decisions you will ever make are: (1) To trust Christ as your Savior, (2) who you marry, (3) what church you join. Get any of these wrong and you will go wrong. We hear a lot of talk about,”attending the church of your choice” and that sounds good, but it’s possible to make the wrong choice. We need to be in the church of God’s choice, not ours. Knowing you are where God wants you to be answers a lot of other questions— where I work, where I live, etc. The problem is that too many people make life-changing decisions any consideration for what God wants. Sadly it doesn’t take much to move some folks out of God’s will— a raise, a promotion, a nicer community, a bigger house, etc.You can’t afford to be careless about this.
When a man decides to get married he doesn’t say,”Give me a woman. Any woman will do.” He has reasons for his choice– hopefully good ones. Should we not take the same care in in selecting a church? The person you marry can make you or break you ( no jokes fellows). The church you join can help you or hurt you–and your family. I never pressure people to join our church, but I do press home the point that they need to join a church and that it should be the church where God wants them to be– which is always one that is sound in doctrine. Being assured of that affects your attitude toward everything else.
When Bev and i got married nearly 54 years ago it was, “for better for worse”. When we moved here over 26 years ago, I became pastor “for better or for worse”. The only question I had was, “Is this where God wants me to be?” Neither the size of the salary, nor the benefits, nor the location, etc. had anything to do with it. Knowing this is where God wanted me was all that mattered, and every other decision I made was with that in mind. People can love me or hate me, give me a raise or cut my salary, etc., as long as I know I’m where God wants me to be is all that matters. And every church member ought to feel the same way. They expect their pastor to feel that way, and they should be expected to have the same attitude. Think about it! You will be glad you did.