If You Wonder Which Is the True Church
If you wonder which churches have remained faithful to the teachings of Jesus Christ and His apostles, here is the measuring line. If they do not measure up, then they are not true. The measuring line is the Word of God, the Bible.
In order for us to apply this measuring line, we must understand something fundamental about Bible interpretation. "The Bible is to be received in its plain, natural, and common sense import unless there become obvious reasons for resorting to another mode of interpreting a particular passage." (Charles Finney)
In other words, most of the Bible should be received literally. Even when a spiritual interpretation applies, the answer is found in the Bible.
During Jude's time, there were cults who also claimed they had received "new revelations."
Rule #1: The Gospel entered the world one time only.
The Apostle Paul urged Pastor Timothy, "Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. I give thee charge in the sight of God . . . that thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Timothy 6:12-14).
Timothy died before the appearing of Jesus Christ. Therefore the charge Paul gave Timothy is handed down to successive generations until Jesus returns.
Rule #2: The Gospel and the church never faded away but have continued to our time.
The Apostle Paul gave the Roman Christians instructions on what to do and what to believe to become a Christian. He said, "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Romans 10:9, 10, 13).
Rule #3: The true church lifts up Jesus Christ as the Lord and Saviour.
Notice how Paul emphasizes that the belief must be in the heart--a genuine, life-motivating faith. Also he says that those who believe must make a clear, verbal confession of their faith.
Rule #4: Entrance into the church calls for genuine faith and an open confession of Jesus as Lord and Saviour.
Is the church you are attending encouraging you to examine its teachings for yourself? Once Paul preached in the city of Berea. There the people of the local synagogue "received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so" (Acts 17:11).
Rule #5: The teachings of the church are open to examination and confirmation through personal Bible study.
Church doctrine is not the product of a few elite leaders. The true church believes the Bible, and members should be encouraged to examine and confirm the truth through Bible study.
Finally, the members will live in obedience to the truth they have confirmed.
Rule #6: The true church maintains a life of obedience to Jesus Christ and His Word.
To summarize, here are six applications of rules by which you can measure a church that claims to be true:
Rule #1--Do they teach that the Gospel entered the world one time only?
Rule #2--Do they believe the Gospel and the church have continued to our time?
Rule #3--Do they lift up Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour?
Rule #4--Do they require genuine faith and open confession of Jesus Christ for every member?
Rule #5--Do they encourage members to examine their teachings through personal Bible study?
Rule #6--Do they maintain a life of obedience to Christ and His Word?
Will you be like the people of Berea and not only examine but also have a "ready mind" to obey the teachings of Jesus Christ?
What the Bible says about YOU.
"The way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps" (Jeremiah 10:23).
"All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way" (Isaiah 53:6).
"There is none righteous, no, not one. They are all gone out of the way" (Romans 3:10, 12).
What the Bible says about JESUS.
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).
"Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
The consequences of your CHOICE.
"And I saw a great white throne . . . . And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works . . . . And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire" (Revelation 20:11-15).
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