Ask Your Preacher
THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH
I want to ask. My husband and I go to different churches, but we are both Christians (just a difference in styles), but our churches are not too far from one another. Well, I don't drive, so my husband takes me on Sunday morning. My church starts at 10 AM; his also starts at 10 AM, but he gives a ride to some of his church members… which I don't mind at all, so I go at maybe 9:30, so he will have time to pick them up, but he wants to drop me off at 9 with no one there, but I don't want to stay that early with no one at the church yet. I just want to know: am I asking him to put me before God
Asking Too Much?
Dear Asking Too Much,
Your family’s religious struggles are deeper than just figuring out how to carpool. The problem is with the idea that the differences between churches are merely “style” differences. There was only one church in the first century, and today there are well over 33,000 different denominations all professing to belong to Christ. This is not only tragic; it’s wrong. Christ died for one church, and He gave us one doctrine (Eph 4:4-6). Christianity can only be preserved in the “unity of the Spirit” (Eph. 4:3). This means that the only way we can have unity is to use the standard the Holy Spirit has given us – the Bible.
All the denominations have their own creed books, statements of faith, organizational structures, and opinions. Christ’s church has none of those. It has one book, the Bible, as its rule and standard for all behavior. It is our guide for all things that pertain to life and godliness (2 Pet 1:3). It is the book that was handed down once and for all to the saints (Jude 3). We cannot have faith without hearing this Word (Rom 10:17), and we cannot please God without obeying its commandments (Jhn 15:14).
The Catholics trust their Vatican leadership, the Protestants reform a broken system, and the community churches pledge loyalty to their communities and social programs. The only solution to the religious confusion is a radical step… restoration of Bible-only principles. Let us go back to the Bible for everything that we do, and if we cannot find Bible authority for something… we must refuse to practice it. A church that finds its roadmap and structure in the Bible alone is the real solution to the division that exists in the religious world. When the Bible speaks, let us speak – and when it is silent, let us be silent.
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. We can help you and your husband find a church that does these things and settles for nothing less than total adherence to the Bible. Just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’d be happy to get you in touch with someone that can study with you.
According to 1 Timothy 3:12, if the candidate recently went through a bankruptcy (and not paid his bills, walked away from a home, etc.) due to mismanagement of his finances, does he fall under the words "beyond reproach"?
Dear Fairly Frugal,
1 Tim 3:8-12 discusses the qualifications for a deacon. Deacons are required to be men of exemplary character. Your question deals with the relationship between a deacon and money. The Bible says that deacons must not be greedy for dishonest gain (1 Tim 3:8). Sometimes, when someone doesn’t pay their bills, it is because of a desire to cheat people or to avoid paying what they owe. If that is the case, the man is definitely not qualified to be a deacon.
However, as we all know in these difficult economic times, sometimes people are unable to pay their bills, but it isn’t for lack of trying. When someone is unable, but willing, to meet their financial obligations, the issue isn’t as clear-cut. If the man in question is careless and frivolous with spending, he may very well be disqualified. However, if he is a good man that has simply fallen upon hard economic times, it wouldn’t necessarily disqualify him from becoming a deacon.
Is it possible to be a Catholic… but not too much? Are there certain "degrees" of being religious? What do you think of the phrases "I'm a Catholic in my own way" or "I'm a Catholic, but I don't exaggerate"?
You can be a deeply devoted, strict Catholic or a mild Catholic… but we recommend neither. Catholicism places the pope as the head of the church; Christianity places Christ as the head of the church (Eph 5:23). All Catholic practices exist because the papal hierarchy believes them to be right; sometimes those beliefs agree with the Bible, but many times they don’t. Catholicism tells priests to not marry, and it forbids certain foods – practices specifically condemned by Paul as false teaching (1 Tim 4:1-3). Catholics are taught to call their religious leaders ‘Father’, but the Bible says that is wrong (Matt 23:9). Catholic practices like infant baptism (and the teaching that children are born sinful), Vatican councils, cardinal vs. venial sins, etc. have no foundation in the Bible. We derive our authority from the Bible, and that is where faith starts (Rom 10:17).
You want to be a Christian – someone who gets all of their practices and beliefs from the Bible and nowhere else. Sticking to the Bible is the only way you can have confidence in your salvation. After all, salvation is from God – we don’t get to decide which way we want to be saved. If you would like help finding a congregation in your area that uses only the Bible as their guide, we would be happy to help you find one. Simply e-mail us at email@example.com.
Currently, I am not attending a church. I stay in my Bible and study The Word as much as possible. I love learning about the Lord and am excited about my journey with Him for the rest of my life! My question is: are there other ways to tithe my money other than giving to a church? I listen to a Christian radio station daily and would love to send an offering, but from what I have been told, this is not tithing. What about giving to the Salvation Army or another Christian organization? Please help!
A Generous Heart
Dear A Generous Heart,
It is a common misconception that studying our Bible at home is a replacement for attending services. Heb 10:24-25 states that forsaking the assembly is a sin and that without the church, we won’t be the kind of people that we ought to be because the church provokes us to love and good works. It is an admirable thing that you want to give, and it is an admirable thing that you faithfully study your Bible. Now is a great time to fulfill even more commands by finding a faithful church and doing what every New Testament Christian did – become an active member. We’d be happy to help you find a congregation in your area that is faithful to the Word in every way. If we can help, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I just want to ask if it is wrong if I often go to church and have my daily Bible study at home? And can you recommend a church to us; we live here at Yokohama, Japan? Thank you.
We aren’t sure if it is a typo or not, but if you are asking if it is okay to go to church often and study your Bible at home… the answer is ‘Yes!’. However, since you are looking for a congregation in your area, we are guessing that were asking if it is okay to study at home and not attend services. The Bible commands christians to not forsake the assembly (Heb 10:24-25). Though in some parts of the world it is difficult to find a faithful group, most countries do have congregations that follow the Bible, and they are often closer than you think. God never intended for christians to function without a local church.
We found what looks like a faithful congregation in Tokyo that teaches and preaches the Bible (we have no personal experience with them though); Tokyo isn’t too far from your location. Here is a link to their website – Ochanomizu church of Christ. It is significantly harder to find English-speaking congregations in non-English speaking countries. There may be a congregation even closer – contact that group, and they will probably have more information than we can provide. If any of our faithful readers have more specific information on a congregation near Yokohama, please send it to us at email@example.com. Also, if the writer of this question will e-mail us with their contact information, we can pass along any additional details we get.