Question:

I was wondering what kind of church I should attend to learn the truth. I used to go to the Salvation Army. I just want to make sure that when I start this path I take the right road.


Answer:

I don't know how well you'll accept my answer since it would be easy to just say that I'm biased. I am, but I believe it to be in a good way.

The question you ought to ask yourself is what are you going to church to do? I know a lot of people who see churches as social clubs. They go for the entertainment and so they pick churches based on activities that they have and who else goes there. Other people pick churches because that is where their family has always attended. To even consider another church is felt to be a betrayal to the family. And there are people who simply pick a church because it is convenient, being nearby or doesn't make much demands on their personal time.

Think for a moment, and perhaps you'll notice that everyone of those people listed above see churches as a creation of man to serve men. If you are interested in truth, then the selection of a church has to be first found by looking at the source of truth. "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth" (John 17:17).

Jesus stated that he was founding his church. "And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18). He alone is the head of it. "And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence" (Colossians 1:18). If you accept that, then doesn't it make sense that you should be looking for a church that is concerned about following Jesus' instructions? Most claim they do, but as soon as you start judging a church by what you like, then the importance of Christ is diminished. "You are My friends if you do whatever I command you" (John 15:14).

I commend you for wanting to learn the truth, so look for a church that focuses on teaching the truth. Listen to lessons is the person just giving his opinion on matters, or is he taking you back to the Bible and helping you better understand what is there. Does he just pull out catch phrases, or does he invite you to read the context to prove he is accurately teaching God's word. We are warned, "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (I John 4:1). Putting people to the test might seem to be a tall order when you are first starting out, but it simply means compare what someone says against what God has already said. God is consistent. He doesn't say one thing yesterday and another thing tomorrow. So if you find someone say, "I know that is what it said, but things have changed. They didn't know as much as we do today," then you know you are in the wrong place.

"Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3). Jesus taught the church what it needed to do in one relatively short time period. That is why Jude said the faith was delivered "once for all." That phrase means once for all people and for all time. It was give to Christians in the form of the written word. That is what "Scripture" means "holy writings." "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" (II Timothy 3:16-17). And the writings are complete. It has everything we need. "As His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue" (II Peter 1:3). "All things" doesn't leave out much, does it?

Since the Bible is complete and it is the truth, then that means the Bible alone defines Christ's church. Here is where a lot of churches are eliminated. What makes a Methodist different from a Baptist? It isn't their Bibles because they use the same one. The difference is found in what they choose to believe and they record those defining differences in creeds and statements of faith. The problem is that creeds and statements of faith are man-made documents. They are much shorter than the Bible, so it is clear they are leaving things out and only giving a summary. And sometimes they add things in which are not found in the Bible. But whether adding or subtracting, the real problem is that what is defining the group isn't the Bible, but a man-made document! "I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ" (Galatians 1:6-10). The only thing that defines Christ's church is Christ's book -- the Bible.

The churches of Christ are independent churches who only use the Bible as their standard of belief. (I should mention that the name "church of Christ" is not trademarked and there are groups which use the name but don't follow the teachings of Christ.) They aren't flashy or showy. They focus on the duties that Christ has given them, such as worshiping God as Christ taught and teaching others about the doctrine of Christ. They understand that when you plant a corn seed, you get a corn plant. When you plant a bean seed, you get a bean plant. Thus, when a church lives by the laws of Christ, you will get a church belong to Christ -- not a Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist, Episcopalian, etc., those require something additional in order to create. Members of the churches of Christ are simply Christians who work together in a community to serve the Lord.