Ask Your Preacher
Should people be getting up in front of the congregation and giving testimonies in the Lord’s church today?
Dear Speaking Up,
We are given a couple of requirements regarding speaking in the church assembly. Any testimony that someone gives of how Christ had helped them, how they had been converted, etc., must fit within the biblical guidelines for the church assembly.
One guideline is that women are not supposed to be speaking or in leadership positions during worship (1 Cor 14:34). Therefore, any woman that has a testimony to give about her life wouldn't be able to do it in that setting.
Another guideline is that everything should be done decently and in order (1 Cor 14:40). Many of the churches that have people give testimonials do so in a chaotic fashion with people jumping up to speak or yelling out during services... this is wholly inappropriate. A congregation is required to be thoughtful and prepared with how the worship service is run.
These two guidelines alone clarify things. If a man had a worthwhile teaching to give or biblical message to present, and it was prepared and presented in a way that was proper and decently in order, it would be permissible. Realistically, very few of the churches in the religious world that use the "testimonial system" do that.
How many false prophets does the Bible mention?
Counting The Corrupt
Dear Counting The Corrupt,
The Bible doesn’t mention a specific number of false prophets – it just says that there are many (Matt 24:11). The world is fraught with false prophets who seek to use the Bible for their own gain and lead people astray. This is why John warns us to test all teachers and compare what they say to the Bible (1 Jn 4:1). Sadly, most of mankind is either duped by these false teachers or frustrated. Even within the Lord’s church, false teachers and sin cause people’s love to grow cold (Matt 24:12). False prophets are innumerable, and the way of truth is spoken against because of them (2 Pet 2:1-2). It is an uphill battle, but if christians continue to refer people to the Bible instead of their own wisdom, God’s Word will be glorified.
Where we worship, there are a great number of people in need of healthcare. It seems every time the announcements are made, we mention several who have missed because they are sick or in the hospital. Where does the burden of responsibility lie for a church meeting the needs of its sick? Considering the purpose of the church includes assembling, where do we stop in our efforts to help people assemble?
Dear Support Staff,
Technically, it isn’t the job of the church to make sure people get to church services; it is the church’s job to make sure services happen. That distinction can be seen in Heb 10:24-25 because individuals were rebuked for forsaking the assembly. It is the individual’s responsibility to make it to services, not the church’s job to drag them there.
Having said that, we shouldn’t be cold-hearted toward people’s needs. If there is a way for others to “do good to the household of faith” (Gal 6:10) by providing rides, that is more than appropriate and a great example of christian hospitality (1 Pet 4:9). But once again, we are talking about individuals helping other individuals.
The church is told to assemble on the first day of the week as a minimum (Acts 20:7, 1 Cor 16:1-2). That is the sum total of God’s command for the collective local body – it is very generic. Within that generic command, a congregation can decide where, when, etc. based upon what is expedient and useful. The specifics are left up to the local church to decide using wisdom (Pr 4:7). The church has to factor in the needs of every member (ailing and healthy) when deciding when to meet. It isn’t about meeting the needs of one particular group of people; it is about trying to balance everyone’s needs. That looks different in each congregation because each congregation is made out of a unique collection of people.
Is it right or wrong to use musical instruments during church services?
Dear Musically Minded,
Before we go into the specifics of this issue, it is important to note that how we feel about a topic is not the same as the truth on a topic. We may feel that a certain activity is pleasing to God, but that doesn’t mean it is. God tells us that His ways are not our ways (Isa 55:8) and that every man’s ways are right in his own eyes (Pr 21:2). The issue isn’t whether or not you feel that you are pleasing God when using instruments to worship – the question we have to ask is: “What do the Scriptures say about instruments in worship?”
The fact is that God has given us instruments to use for worshipping Him – our hearts (Eph 5:19). In the New Testament, God tells us to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to Him. He wants the only melody He hears to come from our hearts. Instrumental music wasn’t introduced into the church until over three hundred years after Christ. In fact, ‘a cappella’ singing (singing without instruments) literally means ‘as the church’. There are no examples of the church using instruments to worship God in the New Testament. If we start using them, we are adding something to God’s Word (Rev 22:18-19). All we are ever told to do is “sing and make melody in our hearts”… pluck your heartstrings as you sing to God, and you will make God happy. If a congregation begins to use instruments in worship, they must do so without any New Testament Scripture to back up the practice.
The problem with instrumental music in worship is that it isn’t a part of the Bible pattern, and the moment we start doing things outside the Bible, we have gone beyond what God intended (1 Cor 4:6). Instrumental music may sound appealing to us, but it is just one more manmade additive that adds to the division and confusion found in the religious world.
How can you tell if a church’s teachings are false? What must I look for? Thank you for your time and help.
On The Alert
Dear On The Alert,
Look for a church that is trying to follow the New Testament pattern as closely as possible. A congregation doesn’t need to be full of perfect people, but they need to be trying to faithfully follow God’s Word and not their own ideologies. The following are a few markers of what you should find in every church that is faithful to Christ’s Word:
- Their name should be Biblical. Church of Christ (Rom 16:16), the church (Acts 14:27), church of God (1 Cor 1:2), the Way (Acts 24:14) – all of these are Biblical names given to a local congregation. Having the right name on the front of the building doesn’t mean they are the right church, but if they can’t even get their name from the Bible, they probably aren’t worth wasting your time on.
- Their doctrine should be a copy of the New Testament (Acts 2:42). Any creeds, ‘statements of faith’, articles of belief, manuals, or handbooks are from man and not from God. You want a congregation that uses the Bible to decide their practices.
- They are autonomous. Every congregation of the New Testament had independence. Only local elders were over them (1 Pet 5:1-2, Acts 14:23). They were bound to follow Christ as their only head (Eph 5:23). No boards or committees, no headquarters in some other state, no popes or potentates – what you are looking for is a local body of believers which is accountable to Christ and His Word.
- The church’s work should be simple. The church of the first century wasn’t involved in every community and political arena. Their work was focused on three things – caring for needy christians (Acts 4:34), preaching to the lost, and teaching the saved (Acts 15:35). Find a congregation who is committed to being about Christ’s work.
- They should be open to examination. Any congregation that is serving Christ should be willing to explain why they do what they do. They should be willing to be examined because they are constantly examining themselves (2 Cor 13:5). There is nothing wrong with asking a congregation where their practices can be found in the New Testament. Ask questions and expect Bible answers for them.
These five things are by no means all of the characteristics of Christ’s church, but this should help narrow down your options significantly. Most people accept mediocrity from their church; don’t do that. It is unfair to expect the people of a congregation to be perfect… you will never find perfect humans. However, you should demand intellectual honesty and Biblical faithfulness from any congregation you want to be a member of. If you would like additional help as you look for a faithful congregation in your area, please email us at email@example.com and we would be happy to help you look.