Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Church is Church

"Church is Church"

Someone over the holidays said this to me and I have been thinking about it ever since. This was from someone that I think is an unbeliever (this assumption is based on a seemingly disinterest in the things of God, but really God only knows a person’s heart) and they were choosing to spend time in a church service that is not a Bible believing Christian church.

1.       The first thing I have thought about is my response. It was, “that is not true.” But that quickly shut down the conversation. I wish I had answered like Jesus and probed a little deeper into the heart issue. I wish I would have said, “Do you really believe that? What if it is was the church of Satan? Or a Hindu temple?”  If it is a church (based on the shape of the building), but they do not preach the Word of God, then it might as well be a Hindu temple. There is no such thing as a little bit right when it comes to eternal salvation.

If I had responded with a question, it might not have shut down the conversation so quickly. I regret not being able to talk more about this with her so that the Holy Spirit could use it to bring her close(r) to God (that is my prayer).

2.       How many people believe that “church is church” – otherwise known as “universalism”? This is a problem. There are so many people who believe that as long as you are sincere about your faith, you are “alright” with God. Which god? Not the God of the Bible who says that He is a jealous God and Jesus Who says that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life and no one comes to the Father but by Him. Biblical Evangelical Christianity is exclusive. It does not include all roads. The way is narrow and we need to be clear about this. If people think there is a fuzzy, gray line and that “any sincere religion” will work, they are on the broad path to destruction. That is exactly what Satan wants – confusion. We need to warn them! Sound the alarm! Blow the trumpets!

3.       I also wonder how many people think they are pleasing God by attending church on these special occasions? They may be attending a bible believing / preaching church, but they attend out of duty. They feel their attendance is a sacrifice that God should appreciate. Maybe it is even at an odd time, like sunrise service for Easter or midnight service on Christmas Eve. Maybe they even serve the homeless a meal on Thanksgiving. Oh what a sacrifice (sarcasm)! God should appreciate all they do for Him, right? Wrong. It does not matter what (seemingly) sacrifices a person attempts - if they have not accepted Jesus, the Son of God, as the Sacrifice for their sin and made Him Lord of their life, it is a futile effort. We read (below) about the Jews who were sacrificing and recognizing religious holidays, but they did not respect or love God with their whole hearts:

Bring no more futile sacrifices;
Incense is an abomination to Me.
The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies—
I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting.
Your New Moons and your appointed feasts
My soul hates;
They are a trouble to Me,
I am weary of bearing
Isaiah 1:13-14

Just a little note – please still invite the unsaved to church. God may not add it as a “good mark” to their account, but there is a chance they will hear something convicting. There is a chance they will realize the depravity of their sinful condition and give their life to Christ. Keep inviting and keep praying for their souls.

4.       How many believers will stand up for our God and our church? Will you? We are the bride. We are part of His Church. There is only One Church. It is precious and was bought with the sacred blood of Christ. It is worth standing up for. Please do not hesitate to speak truth (with grace and love of course) when someone tries to marginalize Christ or His church. Bible believing Evangelical Christians are not the same as Hindus, Muslims, Catholics, or Jews.  Many have died in order to defend the faith and preach the good news around the world. Let us not ever take our freedom of religion lightly. Let us not ever allow a true faith in the Creator of the Universe and His perfect Son to be mixed in with all the other religions of the world. It sounds cheesy – but it is true – this is not about religion, but a relationship. Religion fails (works based). Only a relationship that was paid for by the blood of Christ can save (faith based).

Remember that even though religious holidays, sacrifices, rote rituals, ceremonies and even taking communion makes our hearts feel warm and can make us feel closer to God, that feeling can be deceiving. Our feelings cannot be trusted. We are fallen, sinful humans. In order to truly be close to God, we need to spend time with Him. We need to obey His commands. We need to strive for holiness. We need to humble ourselves and serve others. We need to pray for wisdom like King David:

Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
Psalm 139:23-24

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