There are many Christians today who are not happy worshipping at their present Church.
Some of this discontent may be due to things they find it difficult to pinpoint.
They may have issues with the loud music, the entertainment-style worship, the new age practises coming in, the emphasis on programs, or even the outright false teaching and creeping apostasy noticeable in lots of Churches, under the guise of cultural correctness, seeker-friendliness and relevance.
Some have given up meeting with fellow Christians altogether, which is condemned by the Apostle Paul. Others, in this age of mobility, are on a continual but fruitless chase to find the perfect Church, which doesn’t exist.
Denominational structures today are of no use in helping you pick a Church: there are apostate Baptist Churches and evangelical Anglican Churches about.
This week I will look at the marks of a ‘good’ Church, realising there is no such thing in reality.
This introduction will be very brief, and I intend to pick up on each of the characteristics discussed in future issues of this newsletter.
Properly Understanding the Bible
A ‘good’ Church has a correct understanding of what the Bible is, and its leaders use the Scriptures in the way they were intended to be used.
It will accept what the Bible says about itself: any lesser understanding only leads to fragmentation, division and useless controversy.
‘All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim 3:16 –17)
Christian leaders who attempt to ignore, re-interpret or argue away the normal and literal interpretation of this statement of Paul’s are only contributing to their own destruction, and are undermining the very factual basis on which our faith stands.
Some claim Paul meant ‘Scripture’ to only mean the Old Testament, but this is obviously not true because ever since the Church started to accumulate the letters of the apostles, they have recognised, as we do, those letters as the inspired Word of God.
It is important to realise that the Holy Spirit led the Bible authors so exactly that even the original words used were controlled by Him. Yet God did not override their personalities or style but used human agencies to communicate to us.
A proper Understanding of the Trinity
Why is the Trinity so important? Is it just a matter of optional belief that our God is three-in-one, and so what if He is?
We must be careful to teach correctly about God – the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. A wrong unde-standing of the attributes of the Father will over-emphasise the sometimes misunderstood God of judgment as portrayed in the Old Testament at the expense of His compassion and love as shown in His Son, Jesus Christ. In many Churches today Jesus’ love is often taught at the expense of God’s holiness and the coming judgment.
But even these attributes are often misunderstood, because we can clearly see God’s love in the OT and Jesus’ warnings of judgment in the NT.
This is why the concept of the Trinity is so important.
The Holy Spirit is the gift of the Father and the Son to the Church (that’s us) in order to guide us as we read Scripture and help and comfort us as we walk the Christian life.
Churches that under-emphasise the workings of the Holy Spirit make a similar mistake to the extreme Pentecostals.
I hope to have more on this important issue later, too.
The Church and Salvation
The ‘good’ Church will believe and preach the true message of salvation as revealed in a literal understanding of the New Testament, regardless of current theological trends, emphases, denominational directives or whatever.
This can be summed up in Eph 2:8-9:
‘For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no-one can boast.’
Any Church or teaching which adds works to be necessary for salvation flies in the clear face of this statement of Paul’s.
We must however, have a proper understanding of what is meant by ‘faith.’ I think most people would acknowledge – as did Jesus and all the apostles in their teaching – that any person claiming to have
faith would be shown up to be an outright liar if his/her outward life showed no evidence of repentance, renewal or desire to follow Jesus.
Otherwise their ‘faith’ only slaps God’s face – and shows them up to be a liar, as described several times in John’s first letter: ‘The man who says ‘I know Him’ but does not do what He commands is a liar …’ [1 John 2:4].
More on this later also.
Evangelism and Jesus’ Return
A Church that does not teach a correct Biblical view of Jesus’ return to earth to rescue His remnant and judge rebels is not, in my opinion, a Church at all.
The story of the life, death and resurrection of God’s Son is not the end of the story – He said many times He would return, physically, to the earth: firstly in order to take us to be with Him [John 14:1-4] and then to judge unrepentant sinners when He sets up His Kingdom in the future [Rev 20:11-15].
Therefore the ‘good’ or obedient Church will continually proclaim these things – to sinners and saints alike. A Church not doing these things is defective, and will be treated just as Jesus threatened the lukewarm Laodicean Church – to be spewed from His mouth.