“I will build my church (people).” Matthew 16:18
Jesus is building His revelation truth – that He is the Christ – in the hearts of all who are authentically born again and following Him. So, His remnant people are the church – the called out ones.
When we finally become exhausted enough in the journey of “finding a church,” we may then begin to realize that God just wants us to be His church. Church is not where are go but who we are! We perhaps should cease trying to find a church and just be Christ’s church. Yet, if one insists upon finding a church to go to, here are some things that should be considered.
Below is a list of questions to ask when seeking out the ever so rare and elusive, true New Testament fellowship. These same questions should be asked of the current fellowship you may be involved in.
Perhaps we should begin realizing that God is not impressed with our Sunday morning shows, pretensions, and plastic passifications which we perform in His name but not under His lordship (Matt. 7:19-23; Lk. 6:46; 2 Tim. 3:5). The early believers did not “go to church” they were the Church, and met house to house daily to fellowship. Certain specific elements made up their genuine fellowship with Christ and one another (Acts 2:42-47). Friend, read this passage at the end of Acts 2 closely and prayerfully and see how much of a difference there is between commercialized modern church business houses and the early Church model of authentic Christian fellowship.
“Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” Acts 2:41-47
The early Church setting was prior to the centralizing of “worship services” under the abominable roman religion of Catholicism which is where much of the structure of modern-day evangelical religion comes from.
It is my prediction that many house churches will result from the truth found on this page, which just may reveal that much of the modern church model is not according to the will of the LORD. Please proceed prayerfully.
If you are a pastor, please pray that the LORD will give your heart His gift of repentance, and bring forth fruits consistent with such change.
Perhaps the peril of finding a truth-seeking, truly God-fearing group of believers has never been so pronounced and critical as it is in this late hour, the hour of the foretold great falling away. Yet all wise-virgin believers realize that they must maintain fellowship with God’s true people. This leads them to leave most modern church settings which do not reflect New Testament Christianity see in the Word.
Looking for a good church? Join the club…. Well, on second thought, many whom God has called out of the visible, apostate church world, are simply being His Church in an organic fashion just as after Pentecost when the Church was born (Acts 2:42-47). Church-shopping can be a long and painful process. I gave that up and am now fellowshipping with the LORD’s people daily. Yet, if you insist …. To shorten your search, call the pastor of the church before you visit and ask the following questions. This will save you a lot of Sundays.
1. What is man’s biggest problem, sin or self esteem? Seeker-sensitive and felt-needs churches focus on man’s hurts and problems. The Bible says that man’s biggest problem is sin and depravity and that His need is to repent before a holy God to obtain His mercy and grace to be transformed. Beware of errant programs like Celebrate Recovery which do not honor the One who made man as the only One who can heal men’s lives. For a more in-depth study of the “seeker-sensitive” movement, get Deceivers & False Prophets Among Us 2 full chapters are dedicated to this movement and its practices.
2. What must a man do to inherit eternal life? Repent and trust fully in Christ alone is the Biblical answer. If the word “repent” is never used, say “thank you.”
3. How do you deliver the salvation message? Watch out for “asking for a decision” and “hand raising.” No one is going to sneak into the kingdom of God. Jesus wasn’t ashamed to come and suffer shame and crucifixion for mankind, and told us that anyone ashamed of Him or His Word will be rejected (Mk. 8:34-38). Also, ask the pastor to describe specifically his approach to the lost. Does he encourage people to simply say a prayer, or lay their lives down completely? Does he tell people to ask Jesus into their hearts, or fall upon His mercy in light of their utter sinful depravity, holding nothing back?
4. How hard is it to become a Christian? If the pastor says it is easy, he probably does not understand that dying to self is the hardest thing a person can do.
5. Pastor, How often do you talk about sin, righteousness, and judgment? Balance is key. This should not be the only emphasis, but it should be a regular emphasis as it was with Christ and His apostles which we read about in the Scriptures.
6. Do you preach on “sin” by name, or do you speak of “mistakes”, “addictions”, “disease”, and “shortcomings”? When is the last time you preached the 17 sinful “works of the flesh” named in Galatians 5:19-21? Is God’s Word, Holy Spirit, and true believers the answer, or a psycho-heretical, 12-step program of sinful men? See 2 Peter 1:3-4; 2 Timothy 3:15-17.
7. Do you believe and teach often that God is holy? If so, when is the last time you preached a whole message using the myriad of Bible passages which speak of the utter holiness of the Almighty and the necessity of such in the life of any person who will be with Him eternally? Hebrews 12:14
8. How “seeker-sensitive” is your church? Men who fear God are sensitive to Him first and foremost, and preach His original Gospel, recorded on the pages of holy Scripture, which begins with “Repent.” (Matt. 3:2; 4:17; Acts 3:19) The seeker-senstive message originates from the selfish motive of enterprising pastors, to grow their numbers by farming their communities, but only the LORD Himself can add to His Church. He does this by His Spirit, when His Word is preached and men come to repentance, laying down their lives for Him.
9. Who do you do church for, visitors or believers? Both is not acceptable. Church should be done for the body of Christ and pagans are welcome to watch and to repent when the call comes.
10. Do you dumb down your sermons? If the pastor says “yes” to this question, he is probably not trying to wean his members from milk to meat. Answers like, “We try to make our sermons relevant and accessible to everyone” reveal that he is not obeying God (Heb. 5:11-6:3). In other words, he is preaching “another gospel” to allure men to his little church business and in order to avoid offending those who give their monies to him. Instead of fearing God and preaching His pure and holy Word, this pastor is being “sensitive” to sinners while defying the Almighty (2 Tim. 4:2-5). He is building his own kingdom, not Christ’s.
11. What is your mixture of topical vs. expository preaching? Topical preaching is fine, but if a pastor never or rarely preaches expositionally (verse by verse), then you are going to be learning from the pastor and not God’s Word.
12. Do your sermons emphasize Bible theology, or are they just relevant? Are they meaty or full of filler stories and facts while purposely avoiding preaching line upon line Scripture truth? Many pastors will say their sermons are relevant. What you are looking for is whether or not they are afraid of biblical theology and sacrificing it on the altar of building their own congregation by withholding full-counsel Bible exposition (Acts 20:20, 27).
13. Describe your youth programs. If fun and games is the major (and usually first) emphasis, you have a youth program that is trying to compete with MTV, instead of calling the youth to repentance and making disciples of those who are born again.
14. Describe your evangelism programs. Don’t just accept, “We have an evangelism committee.” Dig. Are they serious about saving souls? If a local church fellowship is serious about obeying Christ in the Great Commission, they will be reaching those in their own community, first and foremost, not just sending money to Africa, India, or Russia (Acts 1:8).
15. Do you have a Gospel tract rack in your facility? If not, it may be that they are not interested enough in reaching the lost to have done so before now.
16. What church growth model do you follow? Hopefully they don’t have one. Churches should be reaching out to the lost with raw biblical truth, The LORD grows His true Church as He wills and as His people obey Him. Local fellowships that are plugged into new church growth models tend to follow man’s modern ideas rather than the Bibles. This they do because they seek to grow their own local business/agenda, not the kingdom of Heaven.
17. Do you espouse Rick Warren and His purpose-driven books? The Purpose Driven Life and The Purpose Driven Church or books by Warren that are full of error. Apostate local churches across the nation have gone crazy over this foolishness, making The Purpose Driven Life a national bestseller. What is most disheartening is that these same fellowships refuse to make God’s Word their Textbook. Rick Warren learned his church growth principles from notorious false prophet Robert Schuller who pastors the Crystal Cathedral. Schuller learned under Norman Vincent Peale, a deceiver posing as a Christian leader who has stated that it is not necessary to be born again and that he found his salvation at a shinto shrine – not Jesus Christ, who said “Ye must be born again.” (Jn. 3:3,7) More on Rick Warren.
18. Do you honor the LORD by celebrating the 66 books of His Word, or do you follow fad teachings via best-selling authors/books? What you are looking for is whether he is excited about and using the Bible as the Textbook of that local fellowship, and not poisoning God’s flock with deception-laced fad books.
19. What version of the Bible do you preach from and why? This is ultra important. If a man has no more discernment than to see and know that the new versions are corrupted, how can he be seen as one who is truly in the fear of God and captivated by His Word and Holy Spirit? Some leaders will even reveal the depth of their blindness by seeking to justify the tens of thousand of words removed from the new versions and numerous perversions of the essential, pillar doctrines that make up the Christian faith. See Bible Versions.
20. How much money do you give to missions and the hungry? Again, this reveals the heart of the church. While most churches give to missions, many never consider the poor, widows and fatherless. Most local churches have a token or photo op outreach program or two, yet their hearts do not burn to help the lost, hungry and hurting, because they are in the ministry for themselves, not Christ. Many local church leaders refuse to help fund the genuine ministries within their own fellowship, overlooking the need to minister to their own communities. In many cases this refusal to support godly people among them who do ministry is due to their own condescending perspectives of those they shepherd (they vainly imagine that their useless seminary/Bible College degree grants them authority, while those who do not have such are inferior. If we read the words of Christ, we will discover that usually, the opposite is true).
21. This is not a question. If you ask for the pastor and the receptionist says, “She will be right with you,” hang up before you get transferred. No woman could possibly be the “husband of one wife” which is one of the requirements for an elder (1 Tim. 3:2; Tit. 1:6).
23. Do you believe in a literal 6 day creation?
24. Do you believe in a literal hell and eternal punishment? Diary of a Dead Man Tract
25. When you distribute the Lord’s Supper, do you emphasize the need to examine yourself and repenting of all sin?
26. Can a practicing homosexual, fornicator or adulterer inherit eternal life? 1 Cor. 6:9-10
27. Does your church exercise church discipline? (Matt. 18:15-17) Do you have examples? For example: what if a married couple divorces for non-biblical reasons? What if there is someone fornicating, greedy or stealing? (Eph. 5:5-9)
28. What would be your response to a homosexual couple attending your church? “Repent”? or, “God accepts all the way they are”? What would be your response if that couple requested membership?
29. Do you know those who labor among you? (1 Thess. 5:12) This would include those who teach, nursery workers, and youth volunteers. Do you require beforehand that they answer questions about their core beliefs and salvation, or are all volunteers accepted because of a lack of volunteers?
30. Pastor, do you personally win souls? (Prov. 11:30) Is every Christian suppose to win souls? Do you equip your body to win souls? (not necessarily street evangelism, but not just “Friendship Evangelism” either, but talking to strangers, friends, and family about Christ)
31. Do you, the pastor, fund and promote the propagation of the Word through the printed page/tracts? Do you invest in local souls by supplying Gospel tracts for those who gather to use? Many a leader sends money to help those overseas while letting those in his own community perish. For some pastors, their thought is that the perceived impact in the minds of his congregation will help his own image/cause, making it look like he really cares for people because he sends money overseas. But why not this nation? Is there a nation more in need of truth than America. Where does the Bible tell us to start ministering? See Acts 1:8.
32. Do you (the pastor) believe “Once Saved Always Saved”? If he says “Yes” you may want to introduce him to a few verses of volumes of Bible truth that refute this fable. If he is not teachable, you will be best to part ways quickly. Anyone teaching this doctrine is deceived at best and fulfilling the prophesy in Jude 4 by “turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness.”
33. How important is it for the believer to abide (remain in) in the fear of and obedience to the LORD? (John 15) If he doesn’t fully live in worship of God, will he forfeit all like the foolish virgins, or still go to Heaven and just lose his rewards? See also Ezek. 33:12-13; Heb. 3:12-15, etc.
34. Do you believe the gifts of the Holy Spirit are still for today? (tongues, interpretation of, prophecy, 1 Cor. 12,14)
35. When community outreaches are done, is the original Gospel preached? This includes: the holy law to bring conviction of sin, repentance, eternal damnation to all who don’t repent, Heaven, and turning from sin & faith to the end.
36. Why are you in the ministry? Are you consumed with the love and fear of God and moved by His Spirit daily in the care of souls, or is your position merely a profession? Are you crucified with Christ? (Gal. 2:20) What is your daily goal? (Phil. 3)
37. According to the New Testament apostolic pattern, do you preach, warn and teach? (Col. 1:27-29) Do you warn of deceivers and false teachings abounding, and the danger of being spoiled? See Col. 2; Rev. 3:11. Most pastors preach and teach something, but few seek to protect God’s flock by warning them of the many wolves operating in the midst and media world of the modern church.
38. Do you often stress and preach God’s Word concerning the essential nature of personal holiness, a crucified life, and the soon return of Christ? See Lk. 21:34-36; 1 John 2:24-3:3. The return of Christ is the most prevalent doctrine in the New Testament cannon and yet is rarely ever mentioned in the modern church. Astounding omission! For more on the return of Christ, see This Hope.
39. Are you or your affiliated religious organization final authority? Or, is God’s Word? Do you fully and completely possess and teach this revelation? If not, he is a deceiver and false teacher and to be marked and rejected as a heretic. See Rom. 16:17-18; 2 Tim. 3:15-17; 4:2-5; Tit. 3:10.
40. Do you give yourself continually to prayer and the ministry of the Word, or are you busy administrating and marketing your local church business? Is the LORD adding to your local fellowship, or are you adding to it by worldly marketing schemes? Are you daily immersing your heart and mind in God’s holy Word, and have you renounced all the falsehoods taught you by men (in seminary or Bible College)? Acts 6:4; 1 Tim. 5:17
Could it be time to go back to the early church model of in-home meetings? Read Acts afresh and pray for understanding and repentance.
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