Olsen Park Church of Christ

Can You Attend the “Church of Your Choice”?

Introduction. It might be in the religious section of a newspaper—it might be in the churches section of the Yellow Pages—it might be on a sign as you enter a small city—different churches are listed in a community and a heading reads “attend the church of your choice.” Can Christians in truth just attend the church of their choice?

I. Is Every “Church” the Lord’s Church?

A. There can be churches whose lampstand has been removed before God (Rev. 2:1-5). We could not consider such a church the Lord’s church.

B. The Holy Spirit speaks of those who are a “synagogue of Satan” (Rev. 2:8-10). James uses the term usually translated “synagogue” of and “assembly” of Christians (James 2:2). Obviously an assembly of Satan is not the Lord’s church.

C. There can be churches that are “dead” (Rev. 3:1-2). Scripture does not equate spiritual life with demonstrations of emotion. This church was dead because its works were imperfect works before God. In Scripture that which is perfect is not that which is flawless, it is that which is complete or mature. A dead church, with imperfect works cannot consider itself the Lord’s church.

D. We must remember that Jesus promised to build His church (Matt. 16:18).

E. Solomon wrote, “Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it” (Psa. 127:1, NKJV).

II. Christians Must Hold to Sound Doctrine.

A. Hold fast to “sound words” (2 Tim. 1:13-14). That which is sound is that which is true, reliable and right. Christians must uphold, teach, and practice things established by the teaching of the New Testament.

B. We must endure “sound doctrine” (2 Tim. 4:3-5). Doctrine is simply what is taught. Christians must abide within sound teaching. We cannot be pleasing to God if we don’t have a love for what He has taught through His word.

III. Christians must reject error (1 Tim. 4:6-7).

A. Christians must not share in evil deeds (2 John 9-11). Not only must Christians hold to sound words and teachings but we must reject false teachings. To fail to do this is to share in evil deeds.

B. We must turn away from powerless forms of “godliness” (1 Tim. 3:1-5). This refutes any idea that would imagine that we can continue with a church that teaches or practices error because we like certain things they do, or because they do some things that are right. We must “turn away” from and form of godliness that is not rooted in the power of the gospel.

IV. Is All Worship Pleasing to God?

A. God seeks worship “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:21-24). Is it possible to do one and not the other? Yes. We can fail to worship “in spirit” in at least two ways. If we go through the motions and our heart is not in our worship we do not worship “in spirit.” If we go beyond the revelation of the Spirit in Scripture we do not worship “in spirit.” We must recognize that it is possible to offer worship that is not “in truth.” Not every act that men do to worship God is worship “in truth.” Only if the worship that we offer is authorized by the word of God can we be assured that it is acceptable to God.

B. Worship born from human tradition is “vain” (Matt. 15:8-9). That which is “vain” is that which is meaningless or useless. Vain worship is not pleasing to God. Christians cannot worship with churches that practice “vain” worship that is not authorized by the word of God.

C. Scripture teaches us what is pleasing to God (2 Tim. 3:14-16). We can know what pleases God by looking to Scripture. Only God’s word gives us what we need to be “thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

D. We must strive to be “well-pleasing” to God (Heb. 13:20-21). Our service to God is not about what pleases us, but about what pleases God. This is not our choice, but God’s revelation through His word.

Conclusion. We cannot simply attend the “church of our choice” and be pleasing to God. We must seek to be a part of the Lord’s church, worshipping Him in spirit and truth, following sound doctrine and turning away from falsehood.

Kyle Pope 2012

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