Jesus promised in Matthew 16:18 that He would build His church. Today many different religious groups exist, but what should you look for in order to find the church that Jesus built? In Matthew 15:9 He said: "But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." So Jesus' church should follow Jesus' teachings, not the doctrines of men. What is Jesus' will for the church?
To begin with, the New Testament church worshiped God in five ways. Acts 2:42 says they studied the teachings revealed by the apostles, they prayed, and they had the breaking of bread or the Lord's Supper on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7). Other passages show that they also sang songs of praise to God (vocal music) and they took up a collection each first day of the week to support the work of the church - Ephesians 5:19; 1 Corinthians 16:2. Is this what is done by the church you attend?
Now consider the organization of the church. Ephesians 1:22 says that Jesus Himself is head over all things to the church. Furthermore, each local church should appoint a plurality of qualified elders to oversee its own work, acting independently from all other local churches - Acts 14:23; 1 Peter 5:1-3. But nowhere does the Bible reveal any earthly headquarters or central governing body for the church in general. Can you find the organizational arrangement of the church of your choice in the Bible?
And finally, what work did Jesus intend for the church to do? Acts 2:45 shows that each local church should care for its own physically destitute members. But the church never emphasized a "social gospel." Instead, the primary work of the church is spiritual - teaching people to become Christians, and then exhorting those who are Christians to grow in the faith - see Acts 11:26; 1 Timothy 3:15.
What about the church where you attend - does it bear the marks of the New Testament church, or does it participate in man-made practices that you cannot find in the Bible?
(c) Copyright David E. Pratte, 2016
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