Ask Your Preacher

Ask Your Preacher

COMMUNITY CHURCHES

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Just Christian

Thursday, October 11, 2018
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?

Sincerely,
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 askyourpreacher@mvchurchofchrist.org).  It is frustrating, confusing, and exasperating to deal with denominationalism.  Thanks be to God that there is a better option!

 

Cash Cow

Monday, July 31, 2017
Your take on the word of faith?  I am currently a member of a Four Square church with phenomenal growth, although they are moderate in context of extreme examples like Haggen, Hinn, etc.  I came from the Calvary Chapel movement which taught against this.  I have found discipleship and ministry involvement, but I still question the constant repeated claims of, “Speak this exercise, your faith is a force to change circumstances, don’t ever admit poverty, lack, sickness, etc.”  They are always alluding to financial blessings, sowing to reap, etc.  I see Biblical precedence, yet it seems a spin on what God intended to tell us through

His Word.  Declaring all God’s promises has not helped me keep my home, jobs, deliverance from bondage to tobacco, sin, and financial need.  Help me put this into perspective.

Sincerely,
More For The Money?

Dear More For The Money,

The theology that your church is ascribing to is called “the prosperity gospel” – and it is a lie.  The prosperity gospel doctrine teaches that the more faith you have, the more money, health, power, etc. you will receive.  They teach that all sicknesses, poverty, and suffering are caused by a lack of faith.  This is simply wrong.

Jesus suffered more than anyone – and yet He was perfectly faithful and never sinned (Heb 4:15).  When Jesus was asked why a certain man was blind, His answer was, “That God’s works could be revealed in Him” (Jhn 9:1-3).  That blind man wasn’t blind because He had sinned, He was blind because it gave God an opportunity to use him.  The apostle Paul had a “thorn in the flesh” (some sort of sickness) that God gave him… even though Paul was exceptionally faithful (2 Cor 12:7).  Job suffered at the hands of Satan BECAUSE he was so faithful (Job 1:8).  And last, but not least, God clearly states that we must suffer in order to enter the kingdom of heaven (Acts 14:22).

The idea that serving Christ will provide you with every physical blessing you could ever want is a perversion of the Scriptures.  It is a preaching that is based upon selfishness and the love of money – both of which God abhors (2 Tim 3:2, 1 Tim 6:10).  Christians should condemn and flee from this kind of false teaching.

Down With Denominationalism

Tuesday, November 22, 2016
In your opinion, is there a right denomination?  I have attended several different types of churches: Baptist, Church of Christ, Non-Denominational.  I’ve talked to Jehovah Witnesses and listened to Catholics on TV.  They all teach something different, but I am not looking for a place that offers their own thoughts.  I just want to know what God wants me to know.  I have been so confused by all these different teachings; I am unsure of what to believe.  Now, I like ya'll; so far you are the only ones that haven't completely confused me or contradicted the Bible.  How can I find a church like how you teach?  I want to go to church so bad, but after I attend for a little while, I notice some churches will start to say things completely different from what my Bible teaches.  And I am left wondering what to believe anymore.  Any help?

Sincerely,
An Honest Soul

Dear An Honest Soul,

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 askyourpreacher@mvchurchofchrist.org).  It is frustrating, confusing, and exasperating to deal with denominationalism.  Thanks be to God that there is a better option!

The Almighty Dollar

Monday, May 09, 2016
Why do the majority of Christian/Non-denominational/Protestant (Evangelicals especially) base a majority of what they talk about on Malachi 3:10?  Why is there such an importance placed on giving money to a church, TV program, or some charity?  When all we see are rich pastors walking around in $500 suits and a big gold and diamond encrusted ring? Okay, so I understand that God gave us what we have, and we are to share the fruits of our labor, but some pastors teach as if this is the ONLY thing in the Bible.  What about compassion for the penniless?  Oh, right, then they'll bring up the little old lady that gave her last two pennies and how magnanimous of her that she gave all she had, and we are only being asked to give 10%; how positively horrible of me.  Doesn't God know that I am broke?  Doesn't He understand that if I don't pay my rent, I end up homeless?  Doesn't He understand that you can't squeeze blood from a turnip?  Okay, so a miracle will happen?  But how am I supposed to believe that God *wants* me to be financially well-to-do?  I should think He has more pressing issues (like forgiving a sinful world) than whether or not I am going to have a financial breakthrough.  Am I wrong, because it seems to me Jesus never asked for money, neither did any of the twelve (with the exception of Judas and the thirty pieces of silver); in fact, weren't they poor and only had the clothes on their back and what they could carry with them?  Didn't Jesus tell them that this is how they were to live?

Sincerely,
Money Mad

Dear Money Mad,

You are absolutely 100% right.  A large portion of evangelists today teach what is called “the prosperity gospel”.  Mal 3:10 is one of their favorite verses because it is so easy to twist out of context.  Yes, God blesses us when we obey Him.  Yes, God blesses us when we contribute financially to His work… but those blessings aren’t always financial.

James tells us that the poor are often the most spiritually rich because they have learned to trust in God for their daily needs (Jas 2:5).  The church at Laodicea was financially wealthy, and that was their downfall because it led to pride and a sense of self-sufficiency (Rev 3:17).  The riches that really count are spiritual ones (Matt 6:19-21).  These preachers that tell people to “give so that they can get” are snake oil salesman.  They are of the same character as the Pharisees who “devoured widows’ houses” (Mk 12:40).

If this is the type of church that you are attending… there is a better and more godly way.  Yes, we should give of our finances… but that isn’t the totality of the Bible message – it isn’t even the majority of it.  We would be happy to help you get in touch with a faithful congregation in your area that teaches the truth.  After all, the church is supposed to be the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Tim 3:15) – not the pillar and ground of the financial world.  E-mail us (askyourpreacher@mvchurchofchrist.org) with what part of the world you live in, and we will do our best to get you in contact with a congregation in your area.

Lifeless Center

Friday, April 08, 2016
We have been unhappy in our church for a while now and have visited other churches, many invitations coming from friends and co-workers.

Recently, we went to a large church (3,500 members) where everyone seemed to love the Lord and, as all of us, were trying to do the right thing in their everyday lives.

The church had just completed their "Life Center" where various events took place: children learning to play basketball, Olympic-sized swimming pool, all kinds of hobby rooms where everything you can think of was being taught, etc.

They were very proud that five million dollars had been paid to complete this massive "center" that could just as easily have been called a country club within the church. While I was given the tour, I even asked if lower income families could come and have their children learn to swim, play tennis, etc.  I was quickly told, "Members only".  (And they have quite an application for you to present before the board in order to join, not about your faith in God, but more of what your earning capabilities are).

We were unhappy at our church for the simple reason that it seemed like a social event where everyone mostly got together to find out what was going on in everyone’s lives.  They would have a meet-and-greet type get-together, then, almost as an afterthought, a 10-minute sermon where, of course, there was no discussion on the subject matter.

I'm particularly fond of one lady who invited us to the "country club church", and I want to explain to her why deep in my heart I don't think that's what God had in mind for us to call ‘church’.

Help me with scriptures as to why it isn't godly to join together with people who have segregated themselves in this fashion.

It's so much like "clubs" to me, or maybe I'm making too much of it, and they're just likeminded people who want to associate just with each other.

Sincerely,
Middle Crust

Dear Middle Crust,

You are right to be bothered by churches like that one!  They are country clubs disguised as religious bodies.  Their religious leaders are “wolves in sheep’s clothing” (Matt 7:15); they lead many people astray by preaching what the people want to hear, instead of preaching the truth (2 Tim 4:3-4).  The church is not a social club; it is the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Tim 3:15).  Paul said it best, “The kingdom of heaven is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom 14:17).  The Pharisees were condemned for this kind of grotesque stealing of money from people in the name of religion.  Jesus said that the scribes “devoured widows’ houses” and “loved the chief seats at feasts” (Mk 12:38-40).  The church is not about physical things; it is a spiritual kingdom (Jhn 18:36).  Anyone who teaches otherwise is a liar.

Furthermore, any group that emphasizes money to the point of having people fill out a financial application has thoroughly turned from God’s Word.  James specifically teaches not to show partiality between the rich and the poor (Jas 2:1-5).  James says that when we show partiality like that, we prove ourselves “judges with evil thoughts” (Jas 2:4) and “commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors” (Jas 2:8-9).  Churches that do what you are talking about are full of heresy and deceit.  Those churches are full of false teachers that lead people away from God.  Members of those congregations are duped into believing they are serving God when, in fact, they are doing nothing of the sort.  Without the illumination of the Scriptures, many people are deceived by this prosperity gospel.

But ignorance is no excuse.  Many will cry out to Jesus, “Lord, Lord… did we not do many mighty works by your Name?”, and on the Day of Judgment, Jesus will tell them, “Depart from Me, I know you not” (Matt 7:21-23).  It isn’t enough to say we believe in Jesus (even the demons do that! – Jas 2:19), we must obey His commandments in order to be His friends (Jhn 15:14).

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