Letters to a Christian

Question 6

Which Church to Go To?

I hava started going to an armanian church and then started going to the Local Churches. After seeing your comments and accusation about them, I was preplex. I only been a Christian for not even two years,"that's if I am according to your teachings". Where can get in touch with your church or something like that. maybe, just maybe!

BCBSR Response

Good to hear from you. I would be interested in hearing how you became a Christian. If you believe in Christ, of course you are a Christian, as I see the term used in the New Testament. But whether one has been born of God, having been saved, is another matter. At times I question my own salvation status. Just as Paul instructs, "Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you— unless, of course, you fail the test?" 2Cor 13:5 For what should be the basis of our assurance of salvation? The book of 1st John deals extensively with this question. A couple of appropriate study guides:

Becoming a Christian

1st John - How to Identify Those Born of God

You mention you went to an armanian church. I'm not sure whether you mean an Armenian church or a church of an Arminian theology. I'm not too familiar with the Armenian church. As I understand it, it's similar to eastern Orthodox, but with kind of a "Jesus only" twist. Arminian is quite different than Armenian. Arminian theology is that which was expressed by Joseph Arminius a few centuries ago. The Methodist church for example has an arminian theology, as well as many Charismatic churches.

By "the Local Church" I assume you're referring to the church associated with Witness Lee and Watchman Nee. I attended such a church for about a year as I elaborated upon at http://www.bcbsr.com/topics/lc.html Though they have some deviant doctrines and practices, I found from my experience that there were also positive aspects there which were superior to many other churches.

But let me speak more generally. Institutionalized Christianity ("churchianity") is not the same as Biblical Christianity. The Local Church will also tell you that, but they are a part of Institutional Christianity even though they deny it. The mentality behind much of institutional christianity will have you running from church to church to find the "ideal" church. And once you found it you hold other churches in contempt. Institutional churches will divide over the most trivial things. And they will inflate their particular dogma in order to appear superior to other churches.

I just don't see the Bible teaching that kind of thing. What is the Christian life according to the Bible? It's believing in Jesus Christ - the Biblical Jesus - as our Savior and serving Him as our Lord. It's applying the Bible to life as the Holy Spirit directs us. It's walking as Christ walked. What are the primary commands concerning the Christian life? John tells us saying, "And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us." 1 John 3:23

"Love one another" is referring to loving other Christians. And that was supposed to be the purpose of assembling together as a Christian community. Is that being accomplished in institutionalize Christianity today? To some extent. But I could tell you that probably every single institutional church in the world is failing in some area, hindering the love of the brethren. In my web page on Institutionalize Christianity at http://www.bcbsr.com/topics/institute.html I mention some of the obvious shortcomings I've run across. But realize that my intention was not to get Christians out of institutionized Christianity, but rather to make them aware of areas they could help to improve their own churches.

There are some who reject all fellowship with other Christians because no Christian or church is pure enough by their standards. But that is contrary to the command to love one another. How can we love other Christians if we don't get together with them? Institutional churches are where many Christians gather at least once a week. Although in terms of loving one another, showing up is often all you're allowed to do there. Though if you have a good preacher it's edifying, though it's rather passive.

I don't believe much in boundaries when it comes to loving other Christians. I don't generally care what church they go to. Most churches have their strengths and weaknesses. More important is to follow the Bible.

What I would recommend is to get involved in a weekly Bible study group. One which is not simply a lecture, but rather is discussion oriented. But that the discussion centers around what the Bible actually says. It could be a church Bible study or a para-church Bible study (campus ministry or such). Or just get together will some other Christians and have a Bible study not affiliated with any church. Church Bible studies tend to be preachy and there's often the leaven of the church's institutional dogma though.

I've been involved in a whole variety of fellowship groups. In fact this is another thing I recommend. Stay with a group for at most 3 years. Jesus' ministered for 3 years, and in Acts 20:31 Paul indicated that he ministered among the Ephesians for 3 years. And it got me thinking that if you stay at once place too long you could stagnate, you don't get familar with other Christians who could benefit from you're particular giftedness or from whom you could benefit. "love one another" should apply beyond your local assembly. Wherever you go in the world, if you meet a Christian, they are family. And as such we've got a big job ahead of us if we are going to love one another as Jesus commanded.

I presently attend Hope Christian Church http://www.hopechristianchurch.org in Winchester Massachusetts (USA) It's non-denominational. As for denominations that have a similar theology as myself, probably Baptist is similar and many non-denominational or inter-denominational churches are probably not far off either.

In Christ,

Steve Amato

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources Jul 29,2015