Suppose a man in the emergency room of a hospital is overheard to say: "You don't sell tires, change oil, or wash cars? What kind of hospital is this?" Or, "What do you mean you don't have trapeze artists, or lion tamers? What kind of hospital is this?"
Most of us would immediately realize his mistake. Doctors and nurses are skilled and trained to help people with health issues, but repairing automobiles and operating a circus are not the purposes of a hospital. And any hospital that would involve itself in those activities would be neglecting the real purpose for which they exist. If you want someone to repair your car or entertain you, you must go elsewhere.
Few people would make this kind of mistake regarding a hospital, but I once read an article that illustrated that people frequently make this mistake regarding the church. For example, consider the people who think:
Many religious groups have become involved in the Social Gospel approach of attracting people by offering entertainment and recreation. The practice is so common that some people do not understand a church that refuses to be involved.
1 Peter 2:5 - The Scriptures teach that the church is a spiritual house, a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices. The church is fundamentally spiritual in nature and exists to offer spiritual service to God.
Just like a hospital does not exist to provide people with car repairs or entertainment, so the church has a purpose for which God created it. To involve the church in recreation and entertainment would pervert its purpose and hinder it from the work for which it exists.
Other people have come to expect the church to provide secular education and child care services for their children. So, they wonder why churches might not provide it.
1 Timothy 3:15 - The church is the pillar and ground of the truth.
1 Thessalonians 1:8 - Our job as a church is to sound forth the word of the Lord.
If you can understand why a hospital should avoid being involved in servicing and repairing automobiles, then you should also be able to understand why the church should not involve itself in providing secular education and child care services. Jesus is the Founder and Owner of the church. He assigned the church the responsibility of spreading His gospel throughout the world. We must not be diverted from our purpose but must maintain our focus on that for which our Lord ordained the church.
Still other people think a church may attract members by offering coffee and doughnuts, banquets, dinners, and so-called church socials.
Romans 1:16 - The gospel is God's power to save all men. [2 Corinthians 10:3-5]
1 Corinthians 11:34 - If anyone is hungry, let him eat at home.
The apostles converted the lost by preaching the gospel. They never attracted people by appealing to their physical desires. They just told people about Jesus. (Acts 17:2,17; 18:4,11,19; 19:8,9; 24:24,25)
If we trust the power of the gospel, we will not appeal to people's fleshly, physical desires.
Nearly all religious groups use instrumental music in their worship, so much so that most people cannot understand a church that would not use it.
Colossians 3:16 - Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. God says that the praise He wants consists of singing. No New Testament passage anywhere authorizes the use of instruments in worship.
Jesus Christ is the head of His church, He shed his blood to purchase the church, and He serves as its only Head and Lawgiver. Only He has the right to decide the purposes that His church will accomplish. If the church wishes to properly serve its Head, we must avoid anything that does not fit what He tells the church to do.
So, "What kind of church is this?" A Scriptural local church church seeks to follow the will and instructions of our Founder and Head in all aspects of our worship and work. We seek to avoid any practice that does not fit the guidelines given by the One who died to save us from our sins and to purchase the church.
If you are not a part of Jesus' true church, then we urge you to become a member and then worship and serve Him faithfully.
(c) Copyright David E. Pratte, 2017
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Scripture quotations are generally from the New King James Version (NKJV), copyright 1982, 1988 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. used by permission. All rights reserved.