Ask Your Preacher
I love church, and I love being part of God’s family, but I really dislike being a certain type of christian. I don't understand why there are so many different beliefs for one religion (like Catholic, Methodist, and so on); is it possible to just be a christian and not any thing specific? Is there a special church that's just christian?
No Party Affiliation
Dear No Party Affiliation,
All we should ever be is just christians… you are absolutely right for being frustrated. The denominational world is confusing… exactly the opposite of God’s church (1 Cor 14:33). The term ‘denomination’ comes from the idea that a church believes that it is a subgroup of a larger religious body. Lutherans worship and teach differently than Episcopalians, Catholics, Presbyterians, etc., but they all believe themselves to be christians – this is wrong. Jesus said that there is only one path to heaven (Matt 7:14). Denominationalism teaches that how you act and worship are matters of opinion, but Jesus said that how you act and worship are matters of truth (Jhn 4:24). The only way to avoid denominationalism is to find a congregation that simply teaches what the Bible says – no creeds, no opinions, no personal agendas. If we truly love Christ, we will follow His commandments (1 Jn 5:2).
Everything a church does (worship, membership, how they teach to be saved, how they spend their money, even their name) needs to have Bible verses backing them up (1 Tim 3:15). A church needs to be able to explain the reasons for why they do what they do (1 Pet 3:15).
Our congregation here in Monroe goes by the name ‘Monroe Valley church of Christ’ because ‘church of Christ’ is a Biblical name for a congregation (Rom 16:16). We worship by singing (Col 3:16), studying the Bible (1 Tim 4:13), praying (2 Thess 3:1), taking communion (only on Sundays – Acts 20:7), and taking up a collection (also only on Sundays – 1 Cor 16:1-2). We teach that you must hear God’s Word (Rom 10:17), believe God’s Word (Jhn 3:16), repent of your sins (Mk 6:12), confess Jesus as your Savior (Lk 12:8), and be baptized to be saved (Acts 2:38, 1 Pet 3:21). We do all these things because they are practices found in the Bible. As you said, you don’t want to go to a church that offers their own thoughts – you want God’s thoughts.
There are other congregations like ours scattered across the country and the world. Most of them use the name ‘church of Christ’, but then again, many churches that use that name aren’t faithful. A Bible name for a church isn’t enough to make it faithful. We have helped others, like yourself, looking for New Testament Christianity find faithful congregations in their area by contacting other preachers and christians that we know. We’d be happy to do the same for you. If you feel comfortable, just let us know what general area you live in, and we will try and get you in touch with a congregation that lives like your Bible reads (our e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org). It is frustrating, confusing, and exasperating to deal with denominationalism. Thanks be to God that there is a better option!
Hi, I was wondering: I am christian, and my boyfriend is Pentecostal. They believe we should be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, but ever since I can remember, it was, "I now baptize you in the Father, Holy Spirit, and the Son.” I seem to think that they go by the Old Testament; could you help me please?
Dear Doctrinal Differences,
There is no difference between being baptized in the name of Jesus Christ and being baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; both phrases are used in the New Testament (Acts 2:38, Matt 28:19). However, the Pentecostal church teaches that baptism isn’t what saves you… which is contrary to the Bible (1 Pet 3:21). The Pentecostal church believes that you are saved when the Holy Spirit miraculously descends upon you, and you begin to speak in tongues. This is a false teaching that pervades the Pentecostal movement. Their belief that God directly speaks to believers apart from the Bible has lead them to change and alter God’s Word radically. God warns us to never do this (Rev 22:18-19). Read our article “Speaking In Tongues” for further information.
In just about every service in Pentecostal churches, there are what the brethren claim to be the manifestations of the Holy Spirit in forms of people constantly speaking in tongues, people running around, people shaking (often aggressively), people jumping around, and people fainting to the ground when they are prayed for. It makes me wonder if they are really feeling the Holy Spirit or if they are simply acting on their emotions. My question is: aside from speaking in tongues, are these type of manifestations of the Holy Spirit biblical? And if they are not biblical, are these people committing a sin for saying that it is the work of the Holy Spirit?
Dear Overly Spirited,
The Pentecostal church believes that the Holy Spirit works by aggressively taking over people’s bodies and minds… this isn’t how He worked in the past, and it definitely isn’t how He works today. 1 Cor 14:40 says that the church should do all things decently and in order... not chaotically with people howling and jumping around madly. It also says that the real prophets that spoke through the Holy Spirit had the ability to control when and with what demeanor they spoke. They were never out of control – their spirits were always subject to dignified restraint (1 Cor 14:32). Furthermore, the Holy Spirit stopped giving the church miraculous abilities (gifts of healing, prophecy, speaking in tongues, etc.) after the Bible was completed. Read “Gifts That Stop Giving” and “What The Holy Spirit Does” for specific details on this subject.
What the Pentecostal church is doing isn’t biblical, and anything that can’t be found in your Bible is sinful (Rev 22:18-19). They are teaching the doctrines of demons instead of the Scriptures (1 Tim 4:1-2). Since these behaviors aren’t from God, they are from the devil, and the Pentecostal church is lying to people.
I want to know what spirit most charismatic preachers operate by since they claim to operate in the prophetic ministry. Some people have said that some of the things they said about them came to pass. What must I know? I know a preacher who says he can line up fifty people and give them prophecies. What is really happening??
Testing The Spirits
Dear Testing The Spirits,
Charismatic preachers are false teachers that take advantage of the vulnerable and play verbal tricks to come across as prophets. Many people believe that fortune tellers are able to tell their future… but that doesn’t mean they actually can. It is all a game of smoke and mirrors meant to deceive.
The charismatic tent meetings that started the charismatic movement (the big tent meetings where people fall over, start randomly speaking gibberish, and supposedly are healed) are infamous for being rigged. Many journalists have investigated these tent meetings and found that they are specifically designed to work people into a frenzy. During that frenzy, the evangelists will tell people they are healed, give them a vague fortune cookie prophecy, and the adrenaline of the moment gives some the momentary feeling of being healed and the action of the meeting leaves people thinking they have heard a real prophecy. There are documented cases of patients going to these meetings and being told that they had been cured of their cancer only to have the doctors diagnose them as terminally ill days later. Other “healed” people are deceivers planted within the audience that pretend to be sick and throw their crutches away to add to the charade.
The charismatic churches create a highly charged atmosphere that sucks in those vulnerable to false teaching and they are consequently deceived. They are seeking a cure, purpose to their life, or a religious experience and the false teachers know what to say to grab their attention (2 Tim 4:3). The faith healers are false teachers, and they will be judged by God for their wicked deceptions (2 Pet 2:1-2). A teacher is more strictly judged (Jas 3:1), and therefore, these preachers will be held accountable for their lies. It is our duty to try and undo their deception by bringing the truth to those who have been deceived.
I saw a vision when I gave my life to Jesus that I was preaching to millions of souls on a stage and crusades. I praise the Lord who used me to bring at least sixty souls. When will my whole vision come to pass?
The days of dreams and visions have passed. In the past, God spoke to various people through dreams, visions, and prophecy, but today He speaks to us through His Son, Jesus Christ (Heb 1:1-2). Now that we have the complete and perfect Bible – there is no need for God to give people individual dreams or visions. It is through the Word of God that we learn how to live faithfully (Rom 10:17).
We are sure that your dreams mean something, but they don’t mean anything supernatural or prophetic. What you had was not a vision. Prophets have visions, and there are no more prophets since we have the perfect and complete Word of God (1 Cor 13:8-10). The human mind is a complex and wondrous thing (Ps 139:14). It is perfectly normal for our minds to make mental connections as we pray, study, sleep, etc. Those mental images aren’t visions; they are just your own thoughts as your mind meditates upon what you have said, read, or heard.
We recommend you read “I Dreamed A Dream” for more information.