How to Choose a Church
What do they believe? Sometimes churches not only have non-traditional practices [a good thing] they have unscriptural beliefs, even if it is a denomination that normally goes with scriptural beliefs.
I once had business with a church in a city East of Dallas. A friend I was staying with was of this denomination but was reluctant to attend because the pastor was a lady.
I may disagree that the pastor should be a lady, but that is a personal interpretation. What is much more important is Do they believe the Bible? So I asked the following question of her. “Do you believe that the Bible, as written in the original languages, is the literal, inerrant, inspired [meaning God breathed] word of God? Her answer was “That’s a long question”. Well it kind of is, but my response to her was “That’s a yes or no question”. And it is.
John chapter 1 makes it clear that Jesus is the Living Word.
So, first we must ask the following questions:
“Do you believe that the Protestant Bible, without the apocrypha, as written in the original languages is the literal, inerrant, inspired [meaning God-breathed] written word of God? If the answer to that question is anything other than a simple “yes”, it is time to move on to another church. Do you believe that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone? I’m not as concerned about the answer to this question being a simple “yes” as I am the one above. Perhaps it’s a personal opinion, but I grew up in a denomination that taught baptism as part of the “plan of salvation.” They used scriptures like Acts 2:38 and Mark 16:16 for this doctrine. I later changed my mind on this because scripture stretching was being used to also promote this doctrine [John 3:3] and by reading other scriptures in the book of Acts. So, long as the concept is there that’s fine. Different denominations have various “steps” in the plan of salvation. Do you believe in the Trinity? There are variations in the answer to this question. One thing that can happen with this question is that the answer can be a simple “yes”, but they mean something else. As the Mormons do. Another thing that can happen with this question is that they can say something similar to “No, not like you do” and actually believe like you do. I learned about this by attending a Seventh Day Adventist Church. They do not consider the Trinity as not personal, but in their Sabbath Classes talked about the Holy Spirit Guiding you. A pastor once told me that it’s important to believe in the Trinity because if you don’t, then you believe in a different God. As I read the scripture I see plenty of scriptures that suggest the Trinity but I’m not convinced that his statement is true. It is important to recognize the Divinity of Christ, and the Divinity of the Godhead. Do you believe that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh? This is a question to ask spirits, according to 1st John 4:1-3. “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: 3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.” 1st John 4:1-3 KJV What translation do you use? Why is this an important question? Because the written word gives us guidance as to whether or not someone is telling the truth. There is a book by a fellow named Antony LeVey who wrote a book called the satanic bible. Now, it’s unlikely that a church claiming to be Christian will use that. But satan is a liar and the father of lies, and he can and does work through interpretations and translations. You need to be sure that the leaders are not false teachers. Ask any questions you can think of. Ask why they use their style of music, ask about things you notice during the service, and if they don’t like all your questions, it may be that they think you are interfering. If they think you are not worth the time and effort to answer questions, even questions they do not like or may not like what it implies, it’s not a good thing. Under no circumstances should the leaders give you the impression you are not wanted. They may be able to expect repentance, but it should always be allowed, no matter what your past, and what you have done.
“Butch” West is a Christian and gardener who has studied nutrition and works for a local Fitness Center in Pflugerville, Texas.